Three Things You Need to Create a Habit
The power of good habits is so great. But what makes a habit stick? Habits can sometimes take years to establish. Maybe if we take the advice of Stephen Covey, we can cut that time to just one month. How cool would that be?
Think about what you would change about your life if you decided to be really great. For me, it would be to wake early every single morning and to workout six days a week. When I say early, I'm talking about 4:30 or 5am. I love mornings. If I can establish waking early as a habit so that I don't even have to think about getting up early, it just happens, my life would be really great. I could get all the important things done before anyone else was awake. That is a habit worth creating.
Stephen Covey talks about three things you need to have in order for a habit to stick. They are knowledge, skill, and desire. I want to help you create more good habits in your life by learning how to put these three things together to create more good habits.
The first is knowledge. He says that knowledge is the what you want to do and the why you want to do it. There are two parts to knowledge. First, there's the facts. There's what you do know, the skills you already have, the information you've acquired. And then there's the awareness, the experience of what you know.
To put this with creating a new habit, you have to become aware of exactly what it is that you are trying to create. You need that clarity if you want it to become reality.
Sometimes we find out what we want by looking at our problems. If you are complaining of not being able to workout because of your long working hours, you have to identify that the problem isn't long working hours. The problem is time management outside of work.
So, now you see that what you really need to do is to manage your time better so you have time to work out. Let's dive a little deeper into the knowledge here.
If you want working out to become a priority, you have to have a compelling reason. Why do you want to work out? You have to dive deep into this and find a reason that really motivates you. 'Because you want to be healthy' probably isn't good enough. I think everyone wants to be healthy, but there's a lot of people who don't workout.
Is is because you want to be able to play with your kids without getting winded? Is it because you want to look good in a bikini? Those are two very different reasons, and they are both valid. You have to be honest with yourself and really get to the heart of why you want what you want. Do not hide from your truth.
Remember, it's not the end goal that is important, but it is important to listen to your desires. They come from inside of us and they are us. If you think it's selfish or dumb to want to look good in a bikini, remember it's not the goal that is the point. It is who you become when you get there.
This is something I've learned from Hal Elrod and Brooke Castillo. Maybe, in the process of learning to love yourself in a bikini, you start a business, helping other women with body issues. We don't know what lies ahead. It's like driving in the dark, we can only see as far as our headlights go.
So, listen to your desires and really understand why you want what it is you want. Figure out everything you know about that thing already, and challenge yourself to be curious about what you could be wrong about. This is knowledge.
Having clarity on the habit you wish to create will make it easier to establish it as a habit.
The second part is skill. The skill is how you are going to do it. I love how Marie Forleo says that 'everything is figureoutable.' It's totally true. If you don't know how to do it, you can figure it out. A skill is the ability to do something well. A lot of times we think that people are just born with a certain skill or ability. That may be true, but that doesn't mean that you can't learn to do the same thing just as well or even better. You just have to apply yourself.
So, you have this habit that you want to create. Let's keep going with working out. You have to examine yourself to see what you are capable of, right now. Maybe you actually want to run a marathon, just to be able to say that you did. Maybe the problem is that you can't imagine running around the block, let alone a marathon. But to establish the habit of running, you have to start small. Even if it means walking around your house to start.
I've heard true stories of people who have done this. Soon they are running laps around their house, and when that's easy, they run around the block. When that's easy, they move to a track or add more blocks. Keep moving bigger and bigger.
If you're trying to do something that you aren't capable of, you aren't going to want to do it. I think the key is to set your goal big, but to start small habits. This will ensure that you actually do the work. When you do the work, you build confidence and trust in yourself. Does that make sense? If you look for ways to make it easier, you will set yourself up for success. What can you do to make it easier to succeed?
When you think of skills, think of things that you are naturally good at. Maybe you're really good at being in large groups. Maybe you love being around people, and talking. If this is you, running around the block by yourself isn't going to sound fun. You would be better off joining a class at your local gym. But if you never go to the gym, it's going to be hard to start. So do a 5 minute workout for the first week. Then do 10 minutes the next week.
Understand your nature, be open to learning new things, and start small before going big. Before you know it, your skills will help you develop your new habit.
The last part of creating a habit is desire. Desire is the strong feeling you have for something you want. Sometimes we think that desire just comes over us, like it's out of our control. That isn't true. Desire is a feeling. Remember, everything you feel is because of a thought you are thinking.
If all you can think about is losing weight, you have the desire to lose weight. If you are overweight, this is a healthy desire. You want to be better.
I want to pause for a minute here and talk about this, being better. This is such a mind game. Because, really, you are good enough right now, the way you are. When you lose weight, you aren't going to be a better person. What happens is that you remove the obstacles that are blocking you from believing that you are good enough.
So, if you're already good enough, what's the point of losing weight? The point is because you are human and you are meant to evolve. Remember how we talked about it's who you become in the process, not the end goal? If you want to lose weight, listen to yourself and let yourself evolve into the next version of you. Be curious of you could become.
If you don't want to lose weight, that's fine. But, pay attention to your brain. And if you are losing weight, remember that losing weight isn't going to make you any better than anyone else.
This is self worth. We are all worthy. Our worthiness was decided long before we were ever here. If we weren't worthy, we wouldn't be here. A force greater than you, God, has decided this. I think it's our responsibility to try our best to remove the obstacles so that we can see ourselves as He does. Beautiful and perfect, just the way we are.
So, going back to desire, and wanting to lose weight. You have your knowledge, your what to do and why you want to do it. You have your skills, or you know what you need to learn to make the thing happen. Your desire is how bad do you really want it. Because if you want to create a habit, you need to really want it.
Simon Sinek teaches us to start with why. So, go back to step one. Go back to your knowledge. Why do you want this so badly? When you create this habit, what will be different in your life and what will stay the same? Is it going to be worth it? You need a compelling reason, and you need to write it down.
Then, you need to commit to that compelling reason every. single. day. I like to hang it up above my desk and read it everyday. And below it I have a chart that says, How committed are you today? I have to check myself that it's a 10, everyday. No matter what.
That's how you create habits, friends. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it. The more committed you are and the more compelling your reason is, the sooner the habit will be created and you can do your thing without even thinking about it.
Here's your homework
Find ONE thing that you wish was a good habit in your life. Maybe it's waking early or reading the Bible more. Maybe it's learning a new skill for fun (photography, calligraphy) or maybe it's losing weight. Pick one habit and define the three parts that you need to make your habit stick.
Do the work, friends. You will be so glad you did!