December 26, 2017

Building Habits


We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a Habit.

Aristotle

A long lost friend (Gary S.) I haven't seen in many years remarked about a recent photo that I seemed to be rather healthy for being 75 years old, and then he wondered if I have a few "pearls of wisdom" to pass on...

I was going to answer his email directly, but then I thought it was such a great question that I would share it with You, dear reader...

The most important "pearl of wisdom" is to build good habits, by doing the right things every day. After a number of days, a habit is formed, and the longer you do the habit, the stronger it becomes, until you no longer need to think about it. The habit takes over; you are on "auto-pilot". It's not work anymore, it's easy. In fact, it becomes difficult to stop doing the right things.

I've been working on building good habits for several years. It's coming along nicely. I have learned a lot about the process, and have been building a system that helps good habits. For now, I call it EZchecklist™.  

The concept is simple. Make a list (checklist) of the good habits you want to have. And then "Just Do It" as the Nike quote so eloquently states. It's just that simple; but it's not at all easy.

The problem is the "Knowing - Doing Gap". We know the right things to do, but we don't do them, primarily because we are, by default, in the habit of not doing them.

For example: we know, and have heard many times, that it is important to:
  • Eat right (avoid sugar, alcohol, drugs; drink water, portion control, etc)
  • Exercise (daily light exercise)
  • Get enough sleep (consistently early to bed, early to rise)
  • Meditate 
  • Breathe
  • Smile
  • Help others, acts of kindness
  • and so on...
But in the press of everyday life and business (especially doing a startup), it seems that there is always something more urgent that needs doing, and our health suffers, stress mounts, and in the long run the business suffers because we are out of control in our own lives.

What happens is that we just don't do the right things, or we are not consistent  in doing the right things.

Consistency is the key. That's what builds habits. Exercising once or twice a week does nothing for your health. 

This applies to building Habits: You must start, and you must continue. 

Gary: Thank you for the opportunity to be of service!