Habit Decoded

This post is a part of 2-Part Post on Habits and what I learned about them in the month of January 2014 – The Month of Habits.

In the previous post, I explained what I discovered to be the biggest myths about Habits. Today, lets understand what habits are. Lets jump in and decode habit right away. Shall we?

A habit simply put is:

  1. a desired response (which will later become reaction)
  2. to an itch

Sometimes simple things are kinda intimidating aren’t they? Let’s dig in a little bit.

A Response is creating a new set of actions by removing or replacing the usual actions – reactions

A response could be not eating that extra brownie or doing 20 push-ups. The thing about response is it needs something to hold on to for support before it becomes a part of your subconscious system. Just like how we learnt to walk.

And An Itch is what that gives the hold.

An itch can be an already formed habit, a place or time or something that you can have as a reference.

Example – doing push-ups (response) immediately after getting up (itch)

It’s like itch and response have been bitten by a Cupid. They are inseparable until the magic wears off.

But to sustain the magic is not difficult if you:

a) Pay attention to the itch: Sub conscious is quick! First few days you need to make a conscious effort on responding to the trigger but before you know it, it becomes an itch – you can feel the itch at that particular place or time or just after a habit you had fixed to prelude/succeed the new one. Sometimes you will follow the new habit some times you don’t – but the itch will be there for a long time.(for me lasted for 15 days after first three days of conscious trigger)

On the side note: That’s why I call it an itch and not a trigger or cue as used in NLP or power of habits. Though I borrowed ideas from them.

b)Have just one itch: (otherwise the brain gets confused ) It’s important esp during the beginning stages .Another reason is that the references might conflict with each other. Moreover having more than one itch provides a lot of room for failure we don’t want that do we? I mean would you bet on hitting the target at the center for 3 times continuously in the very first attempt? No, right?

So basically, if you have done both you can master any habit in less than 7 days.(I am just putting out a number based on my experience it could be even less than that.)

But, a human is to err. It’s important to know that we err. That way we do not get trapped in failures.

I am going to reserve the discussion on habit formation for the next post.

The platform is all yours now :), have you discovered something about habit or share a similar view, do share it! 

Bonus: If you would like to test your subconscious, before you sleep make a conviction to get up at a particular time. Trust the system, don’t switch on the alarm. You will wake up during that time (give or take a 5-10 mins). But, you have to pick yourself out of bed though ;).


Do the work: Book Summary

I love reading. But I have a poor memory. So I decided to reduce books (or articles) to just a 3 or 4 points – more like a skeleton of the mind map. 

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield in one line:

Book introduces resistance (fear), what is it, how to overcome it and do the work.

The What:Nature of resistance (fear)

Inevitable, Impersonal, Infallible,Goes for the Kill, it is intelligent, logical, omnipresent

  • Look at Resistance – as a compass to guide you
  • More the Resistance – more reason to go through with it (stay with the energy)
  • Begin – Begin fast.Begin now. Start Before you are ready
  • Idea materializes through you – you are just the means. Allow it be what it wants to be
  • Till you Ship. It’s not done, till you ship (be stubborn and get it done)
do the work, justaparna, Steven Pressfield
Quote: Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

The Hows:

How Bad do you want to do the work?

Dabbling • Interested • Intrigued but Uncertain • Passionate • Totally Committed

Why Do you want to do the work?

For the babes (or the dudes) •The money • For fame • Because I deserve it • For power • To prove my old man (or ex-spouse, mother, teacher, coach) • To serve my vision of how life/mankind ought to be • For fun or beauty • Because I have no choice

Unless you are totally committed and do it for fun or beauty and because you have no choice, you might not do the work.

More detailed summary is available at the domino project.
If you like to Kiss it (Keep it short and simple), grab a few treats from the Power of 3 bar!

What You Don’t Know about Habits!

This post is a part of two-part post on habits and what I learned about them in the month of January 2014 – The Month of Habits.

January is usually a month that is famous for New Year resolutions. On the flip side, it is also notorious for breaking resolutions as well. Usually, my January would be no different. I write down a bunch of resolutions and break almost all of them in less than 15 days. But this time I was determined to not have New Years resolution at all. Instead, I wanted to focus on Habits.

There are too many things I discovered about habits, myself and how to form one. To benefit those interested in this quest, I present to you a 3-part post on habit. In this post I will talk about things that we usually overlook when it comes to habit.

Biggest Myths about Habits.

  1. Habit is not a goal: For a really long time, for me habit was a goal. Be it cycling or learning Spanish. I wanted to learn for 2 hours everyday for 21 days. I did do them. But on 21’st day I was too elated to have “completed” the habit, that I never continued on 22nd, 23rd or 24th day. Goals need to be completed. Habits are never complete, it is continuous process.
  2. Habit is not physical:Most of what has got to do with Habit and Habit formation is not physical. It’s mental, to be exact it runs in the sub-conscious part of our brain. Right from the need to snooze the alarm to reaching out to grab one more chocolate. Habit is all those unconscious decisions we make that impact our lives.
  3. Habit is about setting a support system: Habit is easily misunderstood as an individual element. But, most of the habits are part of a whole. They build the support system that helps you reach mastery. For example, meditation itself is not a goal, but it puts things into perception.Creating that environment where we can build mastery.
  4. Habit is constantly changing: Habit is constantly changing, because the support system is different for different activities. Based on how we are wired, writing 30 minutes every morning to become a great blogger need not be same for a budding novelist who is at his creative peek in the night.
  5. Habit reveals a lot about your inner-engineering: Habits reveals a lot about what ticks you and what doesn’t. For example, some are early risers, some burn the midnight oil and both of them could be excellent artists. But, both of them are very different in terms of what ticks them. For a early riser, creativity might happen in a quite place. Habits explain a lot of surprising things about you. For example I found out that no matter how hard I try 2-4PM is my least creative time of the day. Meaning, to be more productive I would shift my creative period to some other time.

Habit governs a lot of things and getting an insight into our habits – both conscious and subconscious gives us a lot of opportunities to do best work in the time we have on earth.

In the next post, I will talk about what habits are made of.