brown and black turtle on green grass

The Power of Habits

Habits give you great power, perhaps the greatest in absolute.

Sometimes we think that habits are good for ordinary people, and maybe we don’t consider ourselves ordinary people (at least I don’t consider myself like that, I have always tried to be a bit out of the status quo).

We would like to get rid of some habits of ours, and it could be really good for some bad habits we may have (smoking, for instance).

However, consider that building a new habit could bring you extra power.

Usually in life, a success or a failure that happened only once, doesn’t make the difference.

Studies have shown that some winners of the lottery run short of money a few years later because of their bad habits.

If you eat a big slice of cake from time to time, you won’t get fat. But if you eat biscuits containing a lot of butter every day, you may become fat sooner than expected.

Then success is a habit, not a one time off event. The tortoise always wins although the hare always brags about being the winner.

I think you know the famous fable of Esopo where a hare makes fun of a tortoise. Tired of the hare’s arrogant behaviour, the tortoise challenges her to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the race. When the hare awakes however, she finds that her competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before.

It is never too late never to adopt a new habit. Since habits are so powerful, you will begin to see immediately great results.

Then, how to build a new habit?

First thing, decide what you can do more often to reach your goal.

Obviously, it depends on your goal. 

Do you want to acquire a specific skill? A new competence, or knowledge? Eating healthier? You shall establish your objective. The next important step will be deciding the time and the place. Every habit must come true within a certain time frame and in an established place.

From a scientific study carried out by Philippa Lally, it results that acquiring a new habit takes 66 days. Actually, some people can make it in a shorter time (18 days) and others need more time (8 months, I am among those, I consider myself slow and happy to be). Then, patience must become your mantra.

However, there is a small technique that you can learn to acquire a new habit.

I explain it better with a practical example.

Let’s imagine that you want to go to the gym regularly. Well, at the beginning it won’t be fun. You have to go to a place and make a big effort to train yourself. Going to the gym shall turn into a habit. Remember, this is your goal.

Then the first step is deciding about the time and the place, but don’t do anything yet.

You schedule a day and a time to go to the gym but when you arrive, you don’t practise. You can make a tour around, or maybe do some light exercise and for a short time. If the gym has a sauna, go to the sauna and then back home.

In this way, you establish the time and the place in your mind but you don’t complete the action, that is not that amusing yet.

I know that it may seem strange to go around the gym without training. You may think that it is a loss of time but it is not. This is the first step to build a habit, therefore be patient (be the tortoise).

After a few days, or a couple of weeks, your mind will associate the time and the place to the gym and not the effort of the physical exercise.  

Moreover, you may think of the sauna as a reward for your effort (this is actually my motivation to go to the gym).

Don’t think that this phase is a loss of time; actually, it is the most important part, as you are building up a new habit.

So, are you ready for this challenge? Let me know in the comments.

For more on positive changes, please visit my blog crisbiecoach.

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24 thoughts on “The Power of Habits

  1. Love this post with such great examples of how habits underlie success, Cristiana. Reminds me of a quote from Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

  2. I do like your sauna reward, but not the gym.
    Often times I’ve found simple daily habits to be a sense of control over chaotic days.

    1. You put a smile in my face by saying that you like the sauna reward, but not the gym! I agree that with habits you can control chaotic days. You establish a routine and you control them indeed. Thank you commenting!

  3. Enjoyed this! I need to (re)establish some good habits, and this line really stood out to me, “Usually in life, a success or a failure that happened only once, doesn’t make the difference.” Sort of on a related note, your post makes me think of a favorite phrase by Jim Rohm that, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” Thank you for this post, Cristiana!

  4. Ah habits — friend or foe? Sometimes a battle, always a choice! Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but the intention will always win out in the end—even if it takes a bit longer than I’d like!

  5. Loved this Christina. I’m trying to work on some habits right now. Good reminder to be patient and not rush things or be too hard on myself. Thank you Christina

  6. Good habits make life a lot easier. <3

    During the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, we carried water and ice, cooked on a propane burner, outside, and adjusted our schedule to work in the morning and evening when it was cool. We ran errands during the heat of the day to get in air conditioned stores and restaurants. We washed dishes by hand and used more paper plates and paper towels.

    Early on, we had to break a habit to turn on the light switch and water tap and to flush the toilet with a bucket of water. That required a lot of effort. Two weeks later, when the power came back on, we had to reestablish the habit of using the light switch, the tap, and the flush instead of using a flashlight, water jug, and bucket. It was easier to reform long-established habits. than it had been to adopt brand new habits. It was a perfect experience of how habits are broken and formed.

  7. Great piece! I love the example of easing into a gym routine. I’ve been putting off gym membership for a while now (for no real reason) and maybe trying it as you suggested will work. Are arms like this 💪🏻 in my future? 🤔😁

  8. This strategy of first establishing the time and place seems really smart, Cristiana. I’ve never heard it before, but it immediately makes so much sense.

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