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114 Key Principles for Success

Principle 36 - Habits

Habits are a key to success. Creating good habits will improve your odds of success and creating bad habits will decrease them.

What are habits?

Habits are actions without conscious thought.

As I type the words in this book I'm not thinking about typing, I'm just typing because I developed the habit.

It's taken years of practice to be able to type but I use very little energy while doing so.

A habit is anything your brain does without thinking much or using a lot of energy. They are handled mostly by your subconscious.

Habits were created to keep you alive. I like to use the analogy of a computer subroutine. Over time I've programmed myself with many habits or subroutines. MY typing subroutine is at work right now.

From walking, eating, getting to work, taking a shower, making choices, for the most part, is automatic. Myelin seems to be the key. The mechanism isn't important as the simple concept that habits can be created, modified, or stopped. Imagine what your life would be like if you only had good habits and stopped the bad ones.

If you know about computer programming I like to think of a habit as a subroutine your brain uses. Some examples:
  • Type
  • Drive
  • Walk
  • Read
  • Listen
  • Speak
  • Bike ride
  • Rollerblade
  • Get dressed

When something isn't a habit, your brain has to develop the subroutine or program. When taking a shower the "Shower subroutine" goes off in your head. Next time you take a shower notice all the things you do automatically.

You most likely use the same subroutine. Here's mine:
  1. Enter bathroom
  2. Get undressed
  3. Weigh myself
  4. Open shower door
  5. Turn on water
  6. Enter shower
  7. Close shower door
  8. Soap
  9. Rinse
  10. Shampoo
  11. Rinse

So the first thing to do is to create a list of good habits and bad ones you have. Your goal is to eliminate the good ones and create the bad ones. I'm just kidding to see if you picked that up.

Did the previous typo shock your brain? That's how you need to get rid of the bad habits. You create an interruption of the subroutine.

Okay kidding aside, make a list of the habits you want to create and the ones to eliminate.

Here's my list:
  • Eat healthier
  • Go to gym 3x a week
  • Stand up when the clock strikes xx:50
  • Add one remove two
  • FTAD
  • EE each day
  • More focus on important stuff and drop the unimportant
  • When a rude person angers me don't get angry but use it as a trigger for something that makes me feel good or happy
  • Catch myself complaining and limit it
  • Complement people more
  • Follow the Excel diet
  • Pack my bag the night before

Habits to stop:
  • Buying books I'll never read
  • Rushing

Once you're done creating these lists prioritize them. Which habits will give you the biggest bang for the buck (!4$)?

Get it down to three new positive habits and eliminating three bad habits. If it's obvious which one to start then work on that one. If not then just randomly pick one.

How to create habits?

There are a number of ways to create new habits. The best tools are sticky notes, alarms, triggers, checklists, and repetition. There are some people who say it takes 21 days to create a new habit. I think there are many dependencies but the key is repetition. habits,> and he says it from 18 days to 254 days.

How to eliminate habits?

The best way to eliminate a habit is to identify the triggers and replace the habit with something else.

Once you become aware of what triggers your habit, replace it with the new one.

For each of the bad habits identify the triggers and what to replace the habit with.

For the new habits identify the trigger to associate the habit with.

Be aware that some habits will be difficult to shake. I'm not addressing addictions here. The difference between habits and addiction is addictions will have withdrawal symptoms. Like the headache, you'll get if you stop drinking coffee.

50 Minute Habit

I've recently learned that sitting too much is a big health risk. You should be standing at least 10 minutes every hour. So I'm in the process to stand at work at 50 minutes after the hour for 10 minutes. I'm also attaching to this habit a few other useful habits. During this time I will:
  • Check my emails
  • Follow up
  • Track my time for the previous hour
  • Track my work quality for Below Expectations, Meets Expectations, Exceeds Expectations
  • Review my goals for the day, week, month, and year

Creating and replacing habits takes time. But it may be the most important thing you do with your time. This is especially true if you're not reaching the success you desire.

What are some of my Good Habits?
  • Look before you leave
  • Standing every 50 minutes
  • Getting to work early

    What are my bad habits?

    Bad habits are just habits you want to eliminate because they don't help you with your goals such as increasing happiness.

    Some habits are in our DNA
    If you look at proverbs that societies have created you'll likely find simple rules that will help you and your tribe achieve success.

    "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

    This proverb says, what you have is worth more than what you don't have.

    Two books that at this moment are very popular on habits are:
  • by James Clear - Has a 4.8 star rating and 44,571 reviews
  • by Charles Duhigg

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