Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable-The Power Of Habits
This week, as we continue our journey of becoming the courageous CEOs of our own lives, we turn our focus to the silent architects of our daily existence – our habits. These are the small, repeated actions that, over time, form the outcome of our lives. They're so ingrained in our routine that we often overlook their impact. But just like the foundation of a building, our habits determine the stability and height of our achievements.
Habits are comprised of three components: the cue, the routine, and the reward. The cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode. The routine is the action you take, and the reward is the benefit you gain from the habit. Understanding this loop is the first step in mastering your habits, and thereby, your life.
I’ve previously mentioned the habit of checking my phone the moment I wake up. The cue is the alarm, the routine is scrolling through notifications, and the reward is the surge of information. While it seems harmless, this habit conditioned me to start my day in a reactive state, responding to the world's demands before setting my own intentions and focusing on my own values.
We don’t usually watch the NBA in our house, but both my son and I spend time reading about and listening to the habits and commitment of the deceased Kobe Bryant. He didn’t come from a severely disadvantaged home situation, but still found a way to create drive and focus on greatness is a way rarely seen. The bottom line is that it wasn’t an accident. Cultivating productive habits requires intentionality. It's about choosing actions that align with your goals and values and then reinforcing them until they stick. For example, if your goal is to improve your health, a productive habit might be a morning jog. The cue could be your running shoes next to the bed, the routine is the jog itself, and the reward is the feeling of vitality and accomplishment that follows. People who achieve their goals find a way to overcome the inconvenience of improvement. They create systems that improve their odds of success and repeat that effort daily.
Remember, the strength of a habit lies in its repetition. A habit that's sporadically practiced holds as much power as a boat with a broken sail on the sea - it might look the part, but it won't get you far.
Breaking unproductive habits is arguably more challenging than creating new ones, but it's equally, if not more, rewarding. The key is to disrupt the habit loop. This might involve removing the cue, changing the routine, or attaching a new, more positive reward to the action.
Consider the habit of mindlessly scrolling through social media. The cue might be boredom or a lull in your work, the routine is the scrolling, and the reward is the temporary distraction or entertainment it provides. To break this habit, you might start by removing social media apps from your phone's home screen or scheduling specific 'social media check-in' times. Or instead, when you feel the urge to scroll, pick up a book, help a teammate, finish another task early, or engage in a “real-life” social session. The new routine offers a better reward, feeding your mind or getting you ahead of schedule instead of just killing time.
That leads me to this week’s challenge… Reflect on your daily routines and identify one productive habit you'd like to reinforce and one unproductive habit you'd like to change. Plan actionable steps to strengthen the productive habit and disrupt the unproductive one. Remember, the transformation won't happen overnight, but each day you're consistent, you're one step closer to the version of yourself you aspire to be and your friends and family deserve.
I’m thankful that you were willing to go to work today, that you took the time to read this, and for being a part of what makes this world wonderful!