by Linda-Ann Stewart
“Watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Over 90% of your thoughts, beliefs and actions are ruled by habits. Those habits were formed from what you focused on, and the actions you took over and over again. They dug a groove in your psyche, and when triggered, you react automatically.
Some of those habits are beneficial, such as brushing your teeth or sending a thank you card for a referral. But many of them don’t support where you want to go in life. They actually undermine it. Your negative habits developed at a time when they were helpful, but they’ve outlived their usefulness. They’re so automatic that you may not even realize that they’re no longer suitable.
They may be habits that you’ve just fallen into because of laziness or not being aware of the effects they would have on your future. Habits have cumulative effects, either beneficial or detrimental, that don’t show up until later in life. And they will shape your future.
For instance, do you exercise? Over the years, not exercising negatively impacts the quality and quantity of your health. You’ll get weaker as you age, have problems with balance, and not be able to walk very far. But I know people in their 80’s who still hike several miles every week because they’ve stayed in shape. Exercise keeps your heart healthy and reduces the incidence of many diseases. Cultivate this habit for a better, healthier life.
The habitual tendency of pessimism or optimism builds up over time. Either way, it affects the quality of your relationships, as well as your success in life. In my youth, I knew a young man who enjoyed putting others down. He considered it a game. Years later, as a mature adult, he verbally attacked others in cruel and malicious ways. That habit escalated over the years to its present level. It’s cost him jobs, friends and loved ones, but this habit is so ingrained in him that he sees no reason to change.
Do you procrastinate? That habit probably formed early in life. Although it might have been helpful then, it’s not now. For instance, chronically putting off paying your credit card won’t help your pocket book because of late charges. Needing to have the latest phone or gadget won’t benefit your bottom line either. You could have had a nice nest egg if you’d invested that wasted money.
For example, in the stop smoking classes I facilitated, participants were encouraged to save the money they used to spend on cigarettes. They put it into a jar to save for a specific goal. Within 18 months of starting that habit, one couple was able to take the cruise they’d always dreamed of. That money accumulated quickly to bring their dream to reality.
Do you want less stress and anxiety? Become aware of habits that promote those feelings. Small issues can be the worst contributors. For instance, where do you put your keys when you come in the door? Do you put them in one specific place, like on a hook or in a bowl, or do you drop them in random places? How much time do you waste looking for them when you need to leave? Are you ever late for work or an appointment as a result? What kind of impression does your tardiness make on others? That one small habit could mean a lost opportunity or promotion.
It all comes down to your habits. Are your habits supporting your path or sabotaging it? Your habits create your destiny by the thoughts you think and the choices you make on a day to day basis. If you want a different outcome, you’ll have to start making different choices.
Your first step would be to decide on the result you want. Do you want less stress, more joy, to be healthier, or more successful? It must be something you really want and are willing to work towards. Your subconscious doesn’t like change. Your motivation must be stronger than the natural inclination to fall back into the old groove.
Your second step is to decide what habits have to be in place to support your dream. For better health, you’d need to make better food choices and exercise more. To be more productive at work, determine what tasks you need to focus on to reach your goals.
Your third step would be to become aware of the habits that are interfering with your chosen result. They may be small, insignificant ones. Such as always checking your email as soon as you get to work and letting them sidetrack you from your priorities. Or chronically waiting until the last minute to get gas and either running out or running late.
The fourth step is to commit to substituting the new habit for the old one, each and every time. Habits aren’t easy to break. You have to stay aware of what you’re doing whenever you’re in that situation, and make a different choice. It isn’t easy, but it can be done.
When you create habits that support what you want, you’re changing the course of your life. It will take persistence and determination to do so, but your future is worth it. Your habits determine your destiny. Make it a good one.
I now decide what it is I want in my life. I realize that I deserve to have a better future. The Universe always wants for me what I want for myself. Everything I need to support my choice now appears. As I make the choice to change, all levels of my mind align to strengthen my resolve.
Watch the accompanying video, Better Habits Make for a Better Life.