Monday, August 31, 2009

Bad Habits

I am not sure if all habits are bad, but I think all habits are potentially bad. Let me explain. The problem with habits is that they are the things you do without even thinking. That means you're not aware of what you are doing, this could be bad.

How are habits formed? Over on PsyBlog Jeremy Dean explains how habits are formed.
What this study reveals is that when we want to develop a relatively simple habit like eating a piece of fruit each day or taking a 10 minute walk, it could take us over two months ofdaily repetitions before the behaviour becomes a habit. And, while this research suggests that skipping single days isn't detrimental in the long-term, it's those early repetitions that give us the greatest boost in automaticity.-PsyBlog, Jeremy Dean

I want to replace my habits with systems. How is a system different to a habit? A system is different to a habit because systems are a planned, something you thought about. While not all habits are formed consciously. Instead of reacting unconsciously, you have planned how you will act.

The idea came to me from a blog I read regularly, The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen writes about what she is doing to make her life happier, and how she is changing her thinking to enjoy life more and be happy. From this introspection into her habits she came up with 12 life laws that would help her choose responses that would help stimulate her happiness. I am not looking for the rules that will make me more happy, I am looking to develop systems that will make me more productive. I want more control over my future. I want to start a business. To do that I need to use my time productively.

Developing a system helps because it puts me in control. The reason I develop bad habits is because I don't always think about my choice, I take short cuts. Systems are similar to good habits, except I have thought about the problem before hand, and have planned my action according to predefined rules. The rules can be changed, but only if I have taken time and though about the problem.

You shouldn't change a system just because it doesn't suit you in the moment. Instead, over time you should review and refine the system. Systems are what franchises use to create efficient businesses. They work because they simplify the job and create the best results. It reduces errors, because people learn from the experiences of other people. Over time the refined system becomes more effective and will continually improve.

Related Posts

More Reading 6 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits -The Change Blog

Writing Wednesdays #32: Habit -Steven Pressfield