Sometime when I was in junior high, my brother and I had a long talk about the things we wanted to change about ourselves. I wanted to be less shy. I wanted to be myself around new people, make friends easily, and those things were sometimes hard for me. My brother had been reading all kinds of self-help books and had received advice from a few people on why we do the things we do, and you know what he told me? Everything we do is a habit. He said the reason why I was often quiet around new people and had a hard time breaking down barriers between myself and others was simply because I’d made those habits a part of my life.
The good news? Habits can always be broken, he said. You just have to form new habits to replace them.
Depending on who you talk to, I’m still either the quietest person in the world, or I’m not. While some situations make it more comfortable for me to be friendly and outgoing, I’m often naturally quiet until you get to know me. Perhaps this will be a lifelong habit I’ll work on changing, but I’ve learned as long as I’m working on it, it’s never impossible.
There are generally about 15 things going on in my mind at once. I’m always wanting to change habits, from how I spend money, to how much I exercise, to how I treat others, to how ambitious I am at work and in learning new things. And the good news always is that change is always possible, a little bit at a time.
I’m going to start listening to the book “Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg for the third time. I’ve mentioned before how I love good books and this is a good one. Each time I listen, I feel inspired and want to make my life and decisions better.
The book goes through how habits are formed and how to change them. It also talks about how businesses use our habits to target us with ads. That part of the book is half genius, half scary. It’s crazy how much companies can learn about us simply by the things we purchase.
The author also writes about how some small changes in our lives, such as exercising and even making our bed every day, can lead to big changes in several other areas of our lives. These are called keystone habits. They have a ripple effect.
I’ve got big dreams, you guys, and I’m sure you do, too. Getting there takes so much effort and change is often difficult. But I think the more we listen to the wisdom of others, and in this case, some research on habits, we’re maybe just a tiny bit closer to those big dreams.
For your inspiration, here are some quotes from the book. And remember, if you don’t have time to read, you can always get an audio book and listen in the car. We’re in the car much more than we think and that’s time we can be productive instead of passive.
“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”
“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”
“This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.”
“Once you know a habit exists, you have the responsibility to change it … others have done so. … Almost all of the other patterns that exist in most people’s lives — how we eat and sleep and talk to our kids, how we unthinkingly spend our time, attention and money — those are habits that we know exist. And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp and the only option left is to get to work.”