If ever there was a single word that could perfectly sum up humans then it would be ‘habit.’ As defined by dictionary.com a habit is “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.“
But habits aren’t merely things to winge about occasionally at our school reunion or that family gathering that you didn’t even want to attend. Habits can also be very transformative. If you are to look back at anything noteworthy that you’ve ever accomplished then it’s fair to say that in hindsight that achievement was backed by a plethora of routines, and disciplines.
What are routines and disciplines if not habits? As an example when I first started University I accomplished nothing but top marks throughout the first year of my two-year accelerated degree. My routine was simple. I would work on coursework as soon as it was assigned to my class. I would diligently visit the library to source reference books and study materials. I would then draft, edit, finalize, and submit my essay or report ahead of the deadline.
During my first year, everything was still very exciting. I was only working part-time hours and thus had a lot of time to devote to my full-time studies. Come the second year, however, my marks had begun to slip back. I went from achieving mostly firsts and a few seconds to mostly seconds and a few thirds.
What had changed? Well for starters I had gone from working part-time hours to close to full time. I had also become a team leader at work and thus had more responsibility at work, in addition to my academic responsibilities.
In hindsight, it’s fair to say that I wasn’t fully aware that my habits had been the reason for my earlier success at the beginning of my course. And since I had not been aware of this connection I allowed negative habits to replace the positive ones due to that ignorance.
So in summary it’s important to know the power of habits. Even more than that, however, it’s more important to be aware of one’s habits and how they affect results in life.