The Power of Habits

Dr. Purushothaman
January 10, 2014


I just had a friend over from the Netherlands and she rented a car. Now most of you know that in Australia we drive on the left side. So a couple of things are reversed. And some are the same. It was amazing to see how she initially was actually thrown off her feet and felt quite anxious in the beginning. AND it was great to hear that after a while she got used to driving on the left side!
The human brain is an amazing tool, capable of running multiple simultaneous processes. Even a skill like driving a car or riding a bike, which many people take for granted, involves massive amounts of "parallel processing", for instance:
Keep heart beating, - Monitor other vehicles, - Set & correct steering, - Move limbs independently, - Adjust focal range, - Keep a goal in mind, - Breathe, - Adjust blood pH levels, - Predict behaviour of others; - Predict stopping distances, - etc
In often tell my clients and students that "Your unconscious is running the show". That most of what we do each day (over 90% our behaviours) is done automatically by the unconscious mind.
The benefit of this is that it means that most of what we do can be "delegated" to the unconscious mind, leaving our conscious mind free to focus on... what's really important!
Your conscious minds is for focusing. And the ability to focus your conscious mind is one of the powerful abilities a person can develop. Because that's how you build new habits.
You can use your conscious to build new habits.
As you're probably already aware, habits are powerful. Once something is habitual, your unconscious does it for you. It's virtually effortless. This goes for "nice" habits (brushing your teeth, working out, meditating, preparing healthy food) as well as "nasty" ones (smoking, watching TV, eating take-away food).
It takes about a month to create a new habit, but once you've created it, you can let it run. Of course, as everyone who's ever tried to change everything at once knows, there are a limited number of new habits you can create at any one time.
They say it's best to build one new habit a month. Now what would happen if you eliminate an unhelpful habit & create a new, empowering one each month.
Oh and by the way -you are already a creature of habit, whether you like it or not! So why not create some empowering habits. Maybe it's time to take control of those routines & rituals & use them to your advantage.
Here's an exercise;
1)Identify 12 new habits that would transform your life if you added them to your life & did them consistently.
2)Identify 12 existing habits that would transform your life if you eliminated them.
3)Put each list into some kind of order of priority.
The order is of course up to you. For some people, starting with the one habit that would make the biggest impact on their life is the place to start, while other people may want to start with the easiest habit to either build or eliminate. There are benefits to both approaches - if you choose an easy one, it may help to increase your confidence to build/eliminate subsequent habits.
4)For the number habit that you want to build, make a list of the following:
a)What will building this habit give me
b)What will building this habit cost me
c)What does NOT building this habit give me
d)What does NOT building this habit cost me
5)For the number habit that you want to eliminate, make a list of the following:
a)What will eliminating this habit give me
b)What will eliminating this habit cost me
c)What does NOT eliminating this habit give me
d)What does NOT eliminating this habit cost me
6)Start brainstorming ways that you can keep the benefits of the current situation (ie. the benefits of keeping old bad habit & not building the new habit).
Don't eliminate a habit until you've found new ways to get the benefits of the habit.
Until we meet enjoy what's out there
About the Author
Wilbert Molenaar is an Executive Life Coach in Perth Australia who uses NLP Training Techniques to maximize desired change.

The Power of Habits
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