Habits are interesting. I’ve spent a lot of time recently investigating my own habits. Trying to decide which I’d like to add, which I’d like to ditch, and I’ve been really surprised going through this exercise. I think everyone here knows what habits are, but I feel like there are some details that are often overlooked:
- Habits can be positive or negative.
- A huge portion of your day is habitual and auto-pilot.
- Some habits are passive while others are on purpose.
The obvious negative habits are smoking, drugs, etc. But how much of your day to day routine is simply not helping you? I recently did an analysis of my spending in order to determine how much I was spending eating out. I fell into a routine of eating out quite often, and I was worried I was spending entirely too much… and I was right. In the last month, I’ve spent nearly $750 eating out! Ridiculously wasteful, embarrassing, and finding this out made me feel incredibly stupid. But it doesn’t have to be anything as big as this.
Think about some of the auto-pilot activities you take part in each day. What about unwinding after a day at work? Do you have a beer? A typical beer will have 150 calories. If you have one beer per work day (5 per week), you will have consumed 3,000 calories in just a single month, and 36,000 over the course of a year (the math is just an estimate, calm down!). 36,000 calories is over 10 pounds worth of calories. Which means if you are not burning those extra 150 calories, on average, each day… over the course of 10 years you would gain 100 pounds. It is mind-blowing the effect that one little habit can have on your life.
Many habits are developed out of necessity or due to circumstance. Think about how you drive to work. You’re probably not making much of an active decision each day when you’re on your way to work about which route to take (unless traffic forces your hand). How about the way you lift your groceries out of the car? How much water you drink per day? Bite your nails? The list goes on and on. I like to call these accidental habits that sort of sneak into your daily life. Most of the time, you don’t even notice until there’s a big problem… like gaining 50 pounds over 5 years.
What I am beginning to focus on, and I challenge you to do the same, are the habits that you form on purpose. Are you brushing and flossing everyday? How about washing your face? Eating out too much? Studying? Taking time to read, write, network, and workout every… single… day? Okay, I’ll admit, this is a small portion of my own list; but it does illustrate the point and offer some examples.
You’re on a path, which is based on your daily habits. Time doesn’t stop; you will be someone or somewhere new in 2 years whether you like it or not. Try to think ahead and determine: Are you happy with where you’re headed? If not, you need to start developing the habits, on purpose, that will lead you to where you really want to go.