I know what you’re thinking. “I’m spontaneous! I don’t like routines and I don’t like the humdrum of doing exactly the same thing every day.” People talk about habits like they’re some sort of magic elixir for success, but you know better, don’t you? Just feeling it out as you go is the way to be, isn’t it? Right?
I understand, believe me I do. I’m a pretty spontaneous guy too. I’m the sort of person who likes to chime in when I hear a passing stranger’s comment, jump in the ocean fully clothed, or pack it all up and hit the road for an adventure at a moment’s notice. There’s nothing wrong with spontaneity. In fact, thank God for spontaneity. There is a creativity and a freedom that comes with it unlike any other.
And yet even for us spontaneous types, we spend the vast majority of our time on autopilot.
It’s unavoidable. As my dad always says, “Your brain is so smart that it’s lazy.” Like it or not, spontaneous or not, you are a habitual person in some regard. You like to eat certain things, you tend to respond in a certain way when a certain stimulus is introduced, you like to eat potato chips off of your chest in your underwear. (Hopefully not) You have habits, they just might not be on purpose. A “highly habitual” person’s habits are on purpose.
Habits are a life hack that allow us to get the most out of the vast majority of our time which is spent in autopilot. Why not make this time work for you?
Here are seven effects that a life of good habits creates.
1. The highly habitual person is going to be less stressed.
So much of our anxiety and frustration comes from uncertainty, the need to react, and from always flying by the seat of our pants. With a good system of work and health habits, a lot of your decisions will be made beforehand, saving you a lot of stress.
2. The highly habitual person is going to accomplish more.
It’s inevitable. What you consistently make time for will happen, what you don’t, won’t. How many of you have tried the, “Oh, I’ll get to it,” approach? I sure have. Does it work? Not so much. It can take months to accomplish an “Oh, I’ll get to it,” task, and if it’s something that takes practice or refining (like learning a language, working on a project that takes more than an hour) it simply won’t happen. Ever. Habitual people make consistent time for what is most important, so they get things done.
3. The highly habitual person is going to get more rest.
Projects get done earlier when they are hammered away at consistently, so there is no need to burn the midnight oil and cram in work before a deadline. Rest can be scheduled, just like work. Forming good habits is organizing your time and resources for a healthier lifestyle.
4. The highly habitual person is going to have more fun.
“Okay, back up the truck,” you might be saying. “I was tracking until now, but that’s crazy.” It isn’t crazy, it’s true. Sure, a person who is so rigid that they can never make an exception or take a day off isn’t going to have much fun in life, but that isn’t what I’m advocating. Any normal person who makes a structure out of their goals and available resources is going to end up having more time to pursue and experience the things they love. Do you want to paint more often? Read the classics? Travel the world? Organize your time in a habitual manner to get ahead and you’ll have more down time to let down and let loose.
5. The highly habitual person is going to make better decisions.
When are the worst decisions often made? When you’re rushed, right? When you don’t have all of the information. When you feel pressured. The highly habitual person is going to be better prepared for any situation that may arise, and beyond that he is going to be in the habit of looking at everything from a point of view that takes all the variables into account. What are my resources? What are my constraints? What is the best way to go here? The highly habitual person has a lot of experience making these sort of decisions in no-pressure situations as they organize their lives, so they will be better at making these sort of decisions on the spot. As Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of Psychocybernetics says, the key to overcoming fear-based response is practice in a no-pressure environment.
6. The highly habitual person is going to worry less.
Why? Because there’s a plan, that’s why. What is the most comforting thing to hear when you’re afraid? Isn’t it, “Don’t worry. I’ve got a plan.”? Highly habitual people can’t justify worry as much as the average person. They have a plan pointing them towards their goals. Why worry?
7. The highly habitual person is going to improve the lives of those around him.
Since the highly habitual person is less stressed, more rested, making better decisions, getting more done, having fun and getting it done, aren’t they going to be easier to work with? The highly habitual person will never “get back to you sometime” and then never get back to you. They have a system. They’re in the habit of doing X when a need comes in and they respond within Z hours/days/whatever since that is their habit. A highly habitual person is also, by their mere existence, going to inspire those around them to get more done. Seeing how much the highly habitual person is accomplishing, their coworkers can’t make the excuse that they’re doing as much as they can. Highly habitual people are a great asset to any organization.
Organize your life. Figure out how you can get the most out of your hours each day to accomplish your goals. Build a routine and stick to it. Then you can marvel at how much you have improved in whatever area you set your mind to.
Habits are one of the best ways to create a “life in charge.”