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Habit Creation

So, habit creation. You will have heard it said, I'm sure, that creating a habit can take up to 30 days. In my opinion, it will take you between 60 to 90 days to embed a habit so that it really does come as second nature, where you're not thinking about what you're doing. I think the power of habit is something that we need to understand and recognize and use to our advantage. If we can run any sort of process that we do regularly, subconsciously, so in other words, we're not thinking about it, it saves a huge amount of energy that our brain has to consume to go through consciously what we're trying to achieve.

We Need Habit

Can you imagine, if you drive, going back to the days when you started? And you're, “That's that foot. That's that foot. Press that down. Move this lever. Oh, what does the engine sound like? I want to turn right. Oh, mirror, signal, change gear.” If you were thinking like that all the time rather than just doing it habitually. I drive hundreds of thousands of miles a year. I no longer think about which year I'm in or what the engine sounds like. I'm totally aware of what's going on around me. All the actual mechanical me moving the controls, me adjusting things, it's habitual. I don't think about it. It's subconscious. That saves energy. It allows me to focus on that which is important. Creating those habits is really important if you seriously want to achieve anything great in your life.

Habits Take Time To Embed

Now, we say 60 to 90 days. I think willpower is a great thing to have, but if you're creating a new habit, even something as simple as taking your dog for a regular walk, the first few days, willpower will get you through. “I said I'll take the dog for a walk. I'll take the bloody dog for a walk.” Then you get to day 10 and you think, “Oh, I've got to take the dog for a walk. I did say that I would. Okay. Come on then, Rexy, boy. Let's go,” and you'd go. Day 11, and it's the same. It becomes a drudge and you're not enjoying it. Then it rains. “To hell with the dog. He can go in the garden. Go on. Out you go. Have a poo. Off you go. Thank you. Good boy,” and you sit back and you don't get wet. Overcoming those days is the most important part because if you let a chink of light between you and the habit you're trying to create in, that gap will explode and you will just stop performing.

Habits Are Just Like Muscles

It's like building muscle strength. If you go to the gym regularly and you build your muscle straight, build your muscle strength, build, build, build, you will create that strength. The minute you stop, the muscle strength begins to decay, really slowly at first, but two, three months down the line, all the gains you've made will be lost. Habits are like that. So you need a really strong reason why you're trying to do something to get you from day 10 up to day 28, 30. When you get to there, the habit is pretty much embedded, it's a subconscious act, and irrespective of what the weather's doing, it'd be, “Come on. Rex.” Coat on, go. Blowing a gale, snowing, it doesn't matter. You will take the dog for a walk, and it will become habitual. You won't think about it. You'll go the same route. The dog will crap in the same place. All these things will happen habitually.

Habits Allow Us To Work Safely

I remember when my son & I used to work together delivering static caravans, wide loads, and we created a pattern of work for loading and unloading. And we did it. We weren't consciously doing it. We just fell into this regular habit of ramps down, build them up, drop the air, get the straps ready, winch on, jacks, ramps. We both had our own jobs to do. I wouldn't say it was dangerous work, but we needed to make sure that that load was secure, and by staying within our own jobs and doing the same thing each day, we never missed anything.

Don't Allow Your Habits to be Disturbed

Now, if we went to a strange site to pick up a van and people said, “Oh, we'll help you do that,” and they started throwing blocks on and ramps, “I ain't being funny, mate, but we will work this. If we take five minutes longer on our own, we will be secure in the knowledge that everything that's needed to be done will have been done.” But if somebody else got in the way, we were lost. It disrupted us so much. On two occasions I've seen us undo everything, leave the caravan on, but undo everything and start over just so that we knew that it was blocked and strapped correctly and secure. It's that important. Habits can be disrupted very quickly, but they save you a huge amount of time.

“The Power Of Habits”

Now, I'll put a link to this book in the description below here. This book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, is a brilliant book. The subtitle is Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change. And that's the secret, understanding why we do things and how we can realistically create those habits to our advantage. It's a brilliant book. A bit of a struggle. It gets a bit heavy in places, but, boy, it's worth it. It really is worth it.

Never Try To Build More Than One Habit At A Time

If you can build habits for a specific task, if you create a habit around that task and make it become habitual, you will get so much more done. One big tip, huge tip, only ever try and create one new habit per area of your life. Health, wealth, happiness are the three main areas. Don't try and create two or three new habits in one area. You'll get overwhelmed and you'll stop. One for health, one for wealth, one for happiness. Create those three, get them embedded, get them running, get to 45 days without a miss and you'll be well on your way. Then you can start building and layering new habits in over the top.


The other secret with habit creation is having somebody to hold you to account to that which you have said you will do. Accountability in habit creation, in my humble opinion, is super-critical. Stating publicly what it is you're trying to achieve, when you want to achieve it by, how you're going to do it, and allowing people to call you out on that shit if you fail or if you don't produce, because that will make sure that on those days when you miss, somebody picks you up on it and you get back into the habit straight away. If you make that accountability and hold yourself accountable and have the discipline around that accountability, you'll be able to create anything that you want in life.

If anything I've said interests you, by all means,

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You Can Contact Steve Greenhalgh By Email  use steve@steve-greenhalgh.com




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