Habits are habits that we do regularly, but for whatever reason we choose not to do them. Habits are basically a repetitive pattern of behavior and is normally carried out unconsciously. When you purchase a product at a store you don’t consciously decide to buy it, but the act of purchasing it triggers a series of behaviors in your mind that tell you to buy it. Those behaviors, once acted upon, become automatic. We all have habits, even if we don’t know that we have any.
These habits, when acted upon repeatedly, become a pattern that dictates our actions and thoughts in every situation. One example is our eating habits. Many people, once they reach middle age, begin to develop certain eating habits that they find unattractive or are too busy to continue. Over time, those habits become an old habit, and when we try to give up the old habit, we cannot because our body has become accustomed to that eating pattern.
Habits are generally automatic. They are driven by our primitive brains, and by instinct. It is only over time that our brains and instincts learn to override our wishes and desires and to choose a different path. Habits are generally considered a good thing, because they provide a valuable insight into our nature and a guide to helping us become better people.
Goal-Directed Habits. Goals can be thought of as habits. For example, “I want to lose twenty pounds.” That goal-driven behavior has been shaped by your habitual response to that goal over time. The weight that you want to lose can be thought of as your habit, and your goal-oriented actions are your attempts to create a way to get there.
Habits and goals can also be goal-driven. A common goal is to “reduce stress.” That’s an easy goal to achieve, since reducing stress would seem like it would translate into reducing symptoms of tension (which are the most common symptoms of depression). Habits and goals, however, also include other considerations: how you feel when you meet the challenge, how you feel when you don’t meet the challenge, what you’re going to make in order to make your efforts stick, and so on. All these things can be part of your habit-forming or goal-directing activities every day. These activities are your habits.
Automatic Habits. Certain types of habits, such as compulsive spending, are automatic. You can’t do anything about them, and they don’t have an effect until you force yourself to act on them. Habits like nail-biting, however, can be both automatic and goal-driven. If you’d like to stop procrastinating and learn how to start living an abundant lifestyle today, you’ll need to get to work on changing those bad habits first.
Daily Habits. Your daily habits can either be good habits or bad habits, depending on how they’re formed. Good habits, such as regular exercise, sleeping in on odd hours, and eating a healthy balanced diet, are habit-forming. Bad habits, such as nail-biting, thumb-sucking, procrastination, and ignoring personal hygiene, are goal-directing.
Habits and Triggers. One of the most important parts of identifying bad habits or developing new ones is identifying triggers or circumstances that cause you to act on your unwanted behaviors. Charles Duhiggle’s famous “habit trigger” series helps you identify the triggers that set you off, so that you can avoid them. For example, you might recognize that you tend to procrastinate or ignore personal hygiene by looking at a time sheet before you get started on your day, or by seeing how many pages of a book you can finish in a given period of time.