We’ve always heard about habits and their miracle impact on life. Every one hopes to build good habits and get rid of bad habits.
But as many things that we just take as granted, what’s if we were wrong about habits? What if habits didn’t work the way we think, And what if habits weren’t habits? These are important questions for anyone looking to become a better version of themselves, and I’ll try to introduce a different point of view on habits and how to make them work better for us.
What is a habit and whats wrong about habits?
We’ve all tried it, building a healthy habit that would replace a bad one. But unfortunately its easier said than done. So how about we try starting from a clean plate. Let’s not even call them habits for a minute. But if we cant call them habits, how can we define them? Its something you repeat frequently, usually at the same time of the day, same location, or simply with a similar condition. It’s something that through the years you’ve been doing it that it has become very easy to do. So easy in fact that it would take more effort to not do it than to do it.
How about skills?
Let’s try calling it a skill instead and see how that could fit. You build a skill throughout repetition and become better at it the more you do it. And if you want to change your skill to another one, then it will take you as much time and effort to build the new one. Once the new skill becomes easier to do because than the old skill, you will most likely naturally shift to doing the new skill more than the old one. That seems to fit our definition pretty well.
Habits vs Skills
Let’s try to expand this vision to what we commonly only and expect of habits. The habit of brushing your teeth because the skill of brushing your teeth. As a child it can be difficult as you don’t have the dexterity and strength to do it easily. But with the years you develop the skill of brushing your teeth more easily and more efficiently until it becomes so easy that it is a simple formality.
How about quitting a habit? I’ve never been a smoker but let’s think about it and if you are a smoker please let me know if I’m close or wrong about it. The habit of smoking is more than just smoking, it’s attached to a social behavior, to a time of day, to a physical location… all that combined. That’s why it’s so difficult to get rid of it as there are so many reminders. But what if you wanted to build the skill of not smoking? How would you approach the issue instead? You would learn to recognize what brings you to smoking, the physical sensation, the social situation… and would learn how to resist it longer. Better even you would learn how to avoid some of those situations completely. But once you managed to not start smoking, you also need to learn of what you need to do instead of it. Learn how to respond to a colleague that asks you for a cigarette break. Learn what to do when they go for a smoke but you don’t.
Let’s take a last example for fun. With all that you’ve seen so far, how would you learn the skill to wake up early instead of building the habit of waking up early? I’ll leave this one with your thoughts for a bit. Just for fun J