To accomplish this we can do a little investigation.
- During your adult life what new habits have you formed?
- How did you form these habits?
- How can you apply this knowledge to developing a success habit?
During your adult life what new habit have you formed?
Let's will define adult life as sometime after about 15 years old and habits to mean new behaviors that you do on a regular basis that you previously did not do.
Here are some habits that I have developed:
- Start Smoking
- Stop Smoking
- Floss during each brushing
- Speak Chinese
- Eat nutritiously
The creation of habits is not really much of a mystery. Most of us understand that if we repeat an action over and over enough times, it will become a habit. For each of the habits above, it is clear to me that I performed each of the actions daily for an extended period of time, so much so that I didn't even have to think about doing the action, it was just a part of my person.
How long did it take and how do we stay committed to the habit? When looking online there seems to be some theory about 66 days being a good amount of time to form a habit. I think that is too short. I'm pretty sure that when I stopped smoking, after 66 days, I still had strong temptations and if I had let down my guard, I could have easily started again. For me, I would say 6 months is a more realistic time frame. During the first 6 months of forming a habit, we should have a strong focus on maintaining the new habit.
How about staying committed, especially if we "slip up"? I attended a presentation in high school given by a recovering alcoholic. That presentation changed my thinking forever. The presenter mentioned that he IS an alcoholic and will always be for the rest of his life. He said that he had decided that just for one day, today, he has decided to refrain from drinking alcohol. He made no promises about tomorrow, next week, next year, or the rest of his life. He even admitted that to help him get through one day he would sometimes promise himself that tomorrow he could drink alcohol, just not today. Using this method he had gone 6 years without having any alcohol, though if you asked him to promise to never have alcohol for the rest of his life he would go out and start drinking right now because he could never make the rest of his life without alcohol, though he can make one more day.
This "One Day at a Time" philosophy also has another powerful benefit. If you make a commitment to eat no ice cream for 1 month and then after 2 weeks you "slip" and have some ice cream, it is common for people to then give up and think something like "Well, I've already failed so I might as well continue to eat ice cream for the rest of the month and I can start again next month." With the "one day at a time" philosophy, if we slip, it is only for one day. We can still use the same thinking though it will only last for one day and then tomorrow we start again fresh and can decide what path we want to follow.
How can you apply this knowledge to developing a success habit?
So, for me, applying the "one day at a time" formula for a period of at least 6 months seems to have been effective for me to be able to form a new habit. It seems completely reasonable that this should work towards forming a success habit.
I am currently performing the following activities to form a success habit:
- Listening to success material for about 45 minutes in the morning 5-6 days / week
- Holding weekly Success meetings with like minded individuals for at least 1.5 hours
- Maintaining this blog.
What is your pattern for forming habits? What new habits do you want to form?