The irony of writing a post about the importance of habits is not lost on me. Blog writing for years was a positive habit for me. At the beginning of the year, I’d decide if I was going to write weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly or not at all and make it a habit. This year it was supposed to be every second week… a good habit until a few months ago.
All my good habits have been out the window for months. I blamed winter (which is a reality for me)…but now it’s Spring and I’ve run out of excuses. And here I am trying to get back into those habits I believe are good. Why oh why is it always so hard to get back into the good habits, and on the opposite spectrum, hard to drop the bad habits?
I tried all my old ways of creating habits; reminders, alarms; planners; goals, and nothing had been working. So, I needed new ideas and a different wavelength of thinking…enter, The power of habits by Charles Duhigg.
While the ideas of how to create habits weren’t exceptionally new, the understanding behind why planning or journaling or using other tools is explained as to why they’re important and how it helps make a difference.
Cravings, cues, and rewards were basic terms and explanations used to explain how habits are created and maintained however none of this really does much without willpower.
I always thought willpower was something you either had or didn’t have and it was dependent on different scenarios. If you had it, you could work with it and if you didn’t, well then there was probably something else that you had strong willpower over.
However, “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things”.
Out of all the ideas, research, and plans that the book offered this idea of willpower stuck with me the most; probably because it made me see that if I really want to change something about myself or what I’m doing, then it’s possible. And I really want to get back into all those good habits I used to have…before winter. I somehow have even forgotten why I used to do some of the things I did. Understanding why something is important though isn’t enough to kick in the good habit; believing the reasoning is just as important. Without understanding, there cannot be belief and without belief, there can’t be willpower.
Having thought about the why, how, when, or what, I’ve come to see that understanding is probably the easiest step in this process of building a habit; willpower and belief being the hardest.
“Water is the most apt analogy for how a habit works. Water “hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before.” – William James.