I’ve posted an entry on self-mastery that covers both self-control and self-discipline, and I’m posting a link to it here because I think that self-mastery was the missing piece of my Real Life Limitless Series. Read it here.
As I said in Part Two, …what you do comes from who you are and who you are comes from what you do. We are our habits.
Which means, now that we have established a set of incredibly powerful guiding beliefs that drive us, and we are beginning to act accordingly with our actions, we need to tap into the power of our habits to stay on track, foster continual results and ensure we are becoming that which we seek.
We are our habits.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act then, but a habit.
-Aristotle, ~2300 years ago
The word ‘habit’ itself has developed a negative connotation for many of us simply because we associate negative behaviors with habits that are not beneficial to our well-being. We often hear people speak of someone ‘falling back into their old habits'; however, regardless of our previous connotations we must accept that our habits can either help us or harm us.
Repetition is the Key to Mastering Our Habits
There is no side-stepping the fact that repetitio est mater studiorum; repetition is the mother of learning. Our learned behaviors become imprinted in us via repeated action, until it becomes a learned behavior.
This is the way to change: We must adapt our behaviors and take advantage of the fact that we are creatures of habit.
Habits are hard to break and equally difficult to make. However, there exixts a key pillar that remains the foundation for all of our habits that we must enlist in order to master them: Repetition. It’s that simple.
Being Mindful of Our Second Nature
It’s important to remain conscious of patterns within our behavior because they have extremely powerful outcomes. Think of habits not as habitual behavior, but as the sum of behaviors which we repeat . Whether by choice or not, consciously or unconsciously, we are constantly defining who we are through that which we repeatedly do.
Remaining conscious of our habits can be difficult because habits become effortless. We’ve all seen someone ‘make something look easy’ but we know it is in fact, not easy but rather something they have done in sufficient volume to an extent where it has become second nature.<-(This is when we know we have really developed a habit)
Because of this, we are almost unaware of our habits – which can be dangerous. By using mindfulness, we can activate our conscious thought process and begin to take notice of habits we were previously unaware of.
We tend to become aware of our habits through their outcomes. Unfortunately, this is often when it is too late to direct the course of our actions and avert their result. We are already reaping what we have sown. By being mindful of the patterns in our behavior, we can identify and manipulate them to our benefit.
Mapping Our Habits to Serve A Desired Outcome
So, in order to develop the habits that are going to take us to the next level, we have to examine what we want and map our habits according to the behaviors that will lead us there. We have to be conscious of where our habits are leading us and take control of our destiny by developing learned behaviors through repetition.
Easy enough right. You’re thinking this all makes sense, I know what to do, it would be great to wake up tomorrow and be perfect; doing everything according to ‘plan’ but life doesn’t work like that. It’s hard.
Yes, grasshopper – you are right. Life is hard. And that’s why we need to develop habits – to make it look easy. It will not be easy at first, or even the fifth time, but through discipline, mindfulness, action, repetition and a crystal-clear focus on our beleifs/path and goals, we will arrive.
Discipline is developed through habits and habits are developed through discipline. Master your habits or they will master you.
How bad do you want it? Show the universe with your habits and the all of Rome will be yours.
Part Four: Our Surroundings, published.
In preparing for Part 4 and revisiting this edition of Real Life Limitless, I was left feeling a bit disconnected from the message I wanted to communicate here. I think I conveyed the essence of how our habits shape our lives and a basic nature of how habits are formed, but I didn’t communicate it in a way that I felt was compelling.
I recently added an answer to a question on Quora: Lawrence Black’s answer to What are the three most important tools for radically reinventing your life when you feel stuck?
My answer wasn’t particularly brilliant, but it did contain an invaluable paradigm for framing habits that support our beliefs and goals.
Goals – if you can map your goals backwards to determine the habits required to accomplish them, you will arrive.
So, I think if we can develop habits from this standpoint of mapping our goals in reverse and having the foresight to develop goals that will enable us to arrive where we want to, then we will effectively harness the power of habits that enable us to succeed in a way that manifests our objectives from an ‘on purpose’ standpoint.