Replacing Worn-Out Habits and Habit Identity


Your habits form the foundation for the quality of life you will enjoy, the happiness you will achieve on a daily basis, and the productivity and efficiency that makes things run smoothly in all the vital areas of your life. Habits are powerful tools that, if managed properly, operates like well-oiled machine to keep you moving in a steady direction that builds success into everything you do.

Your habits can make you or break you and so, when it comes to creating the habits that are in alignment with your objectives and dreams, it is imperative that habits are constructed, practiced and streamlined in such a way that it supports the lifestyle you endeavor to thrive in.

Habits Launch Identity

If we neglect to focus on the habits that could make a difference in the things that matter, we will latch onto the habits of least resistance and master the habits that don’t matter. A habit that acts as your “default habit” formed out of laziness is the path of least resistance and leads to failure; it is the easy way out, and the most logical choice when all the other choices seem complaicated or tough to face. If you fail to identify with your daily habits, they will do what they have always done-run the show from top to bottom.

Your habits give you identity. As Aristoltle put it, “We are what we repeatedly do, day in and day out.” When you practice something over and over again, you master it. This works whether the habit serves to empower you or defeat you. If you think of it this way, there really is no such thing as a bad habit, only a habit that diempowers you when it goes against everything you desire to achieve and be.

People fail when they cannot identify with what habits they have to create to serve their best interests. And how do you fail? By doing the practices that deprive you of reaching your full potential. If you desire to run a marathon, you have to create the habit of exercising, maybe by running a few kilometers every day. But you might have another “default” habit that makes you want to eat junk food every night. If so, exercising and eating junk food won’t work well together. They oppose each oter, not just physically because you can’t exercise after eating a bag of potato chips, but mentally as well. Your mind responds much better when you have eaten something healthy.

Believe You Are “That” Person

Everyone has habits that could do with replacement, regardless of who you are or what you do. habits that served you well ten years ago may now be ready for replacement. But, as you know, changing something takes effort. When you try to replace anything, you are met with a certain level of resistance. Depending on how comfortable this habit makes you feel decides the level of resistance you have.

Over the years I have changed several habits that were no longer serving my higher purpose. I still struggle with certain habits that refuse to let go, or better yet, I insist on holding onto. In many ways it is like growing up with a baby blanket. When someone tries to grab it you will fight to the bitter end to keep it.

If you want to get something done, believe that you are that type of person who gets things done. For example, I am a writer. I write words on paper and then publish them. For years I called myself a writer but the truth is, I only wrote when I felt like it. And that wasn’t often. I knew my habits were not in alignment with what I was trying to convince myself I was.

Did I believe it? No I didn’t. Create an identity for yourself by telling yourself that you are that person that writes everyday. If you want to lose weight [and most people do], tell yourself you are the type of person that exercises and eats well. If you stuff yourself with junkfood and then watch TV, this goes against your new identity.

Once you decide your new identity, you have to take action. You need to do something, even if it is a small step. One small step is better than nothing, and usually, it is enough to get you moving in the right direction. If you taek enough small steps, soon you will be making real progress. You will develop the habit of your new identity.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Decide the kind of person you want to be;
  2. Decide the small steps you are taking to become this person;
  3. Take at least one small step  everyday towards the development of your ideal self.

It is important that you don’t miss a day. If you start missing a day or two, that will become your new habit and you’ll identify yourelf as someone who can’t stick with a routine. Whatever it is you want to accomplish, make a list of action steps you can do. Take time to brainstorm ideas and write down everything.

Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do too much. My suggestion is to pick two things you want to focus on. For instance, I chose writing more words, and exercise. So I created a new routine where I blocked off time for both. I tried a twenty minute exercise spurt in the morning, and then followed that up with a 25 minute writing session using the pomodoro technique. There were a few days I missed. And those days turned into a week at one point. So keeping it consistent is the key.

Consistency builds Habit.

Habits build success and get results.

Habits and Self-Esteem

People fail in the important areas of their lives, not because they really are failures but, they fail to connect the importance of strong, healthy habits to their emotions. This isn’t just about doing something and getting results. When you do something that inspires change in your life, you feel good about yourself. You boost your confidence and feel great about who you are. When that happens you experience higher levels of self-esteem, which is basically how you feel about you.

When the habits you partake in damage your health, physically or mentally or emotionally, the obvious result is you beat up on yourself. Self-talk tells you “You see, I knew you couldn’t do it! You’re a loser. Everyone else can succeed at this but you. What is wrong with you? Are you stupid?” These words has a powerful impact on self-esteem. You will find your thoughts and feelings at the bottom of the barrel if you talk to yourself this way. By deciding what it is you want, and taking actions to get there, you can feel great about yourself in a matter of weeks.

Self esteem is something everyone struggles with, and especially if you are prone to being controlled by negative behaviours or destructive habits, your self esteem may be suffering. This is how many people become depressed. They seek help through councelling, doctors, aor other means. Although these methods have their place, I’m sure many people could make the changes in their lives they needed with just a few changes to some habits that are damaging their emotional state.

A low emotional state is also a good sign that something needs doing. Like when your car needs a tune up and it makes strange noises to let you know that, the signs that something needs “tuning up” are there. When you learn to recognize it then you can do something about it.

Action Steps Recap

  1. Decide right now what it is you want to do. Write this down or put it into an app.
  2. Sketch out some actions you can take everyday for the next 21 days.
  3. Decide when and how often you are going to do this.
  4. Do it on the first day.
  5. Do it on the second day.
  6. Continue to do it every other day for at least 21 days. 

When you are through the first 21 days, take some time out to connect with your emotions. How do you feel? Do you feel invigorated? More lighter, fresher, or vibrant? Their is a relationship between altering your behaviour and your emotional state. When you do something positive for yourself, such as exercising or studying for that degree you have always wanted, you connect it with your new identity.

Your new identity is reinforced by the small actions you succeed in doing everyday. When you stop doing these things, you feel like a failure. To do them is to feel successful. Your emotional state and level of self-esteem will always follow the amount of effort exerted.

About Scott Allan

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