“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, it is a habit.” Aristotle.
These immortal words speak forcefully to a series of behaviours we constantly repeat and which, because of that repetition, have come to shape and mould us into who we are.
I have chosen to reshape one of my habits in the writing of this blog. Since the beginning 216 weeks ago, the format has been to discuss a particular habit for three consecutive weeks before moving on to the next one.
We have explored more than 70 different habits and for the next few weeks I would like to use this space to discuss how our habits shape our lives and therefore essentially forecast how we will behave in any given environment.
Our Habits, Ourselves
Aristotle said it best, “We are what we repeatedly do.” And by repeatedly doing the same things, we skillfully sculpt ourselves into exactly who we are, whether intended or not.
There is an old saying that reminds us “old habits die hard.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Old habits do not die hard. In fact, they never die.
When we work very diligently trying to change them, they simply shrink down in size and bury themselves deep within the recesses of our brains waiting for an opportunity to pounce and regain the power they once held over us.
If you take time to become a people watcher you will see habits repeating themselves with everyone you meet. You will see recurring facial expressions, gestures, body language, voice tones and even use of language.
One of the many reasons we struggle to bring long-term and sustainable change to our lives is because to do so we inevitably have to replace deeply entrenched, and comfortable, habits with new ones. The challenge is those pesky old ones will always put up a heckuva fight.
Habits extend far beyond our expressions and gestures for they drive our every thought and influence our every decision. Until we learn the mathematical equation that goes into forming habits, the change we seek in the long term will continue to be elusive and frustrating.
In my job as a Habits Coach, I work with my clients to shift the thinking that got them to where they are to the thinking that will take them to where they want to be, and once there, enable them to thrive.
Change Your Thinking, Change Your Habits
In short, this means I help my clients develop new habits, for it is these habits that that help them forge the pathway to a new and improved life.
To do this each client must come to the realization that habits begin first and foremost in our heads and therefore, this is the place where we must begin if we wish to acquire new ones.
Mostly we try and acquire new habits by repeatedly attempting new behaviours. Those of us who have joined a gym only to stop attending after a few weeks or those who have gone through the painful process of weight loss only to see it creep back in record time, know only too well the sense of disappointment that accompanies our attempts to change habits by changing behaviours.
We are what we repeatedly do, which really means before we do it, we need to consciously choose to do it and then decide to do it. The reality is if the habits aren’t in place, we will not continue to do it.
Habits are fascinating because humans are fascinating.
If you want to create meaningful and sustained change in your life, it takes work, lots of work.
One way or the other we all have more habits than we are even aware of and, like it or not, they have sculpted the person you have become and will continue to become.
If they are great, empowering habits, please keep them. However, if they are not, you have the power to change them.
Your habits will always make or break you, choose wisely.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.