On a day when you’ve shopped for groceries, every item in your shopping cart represents a decision made — and every item you looked at but left on the shelf represents another decision. A simple trip to the store could represent hundreds of decisions.
One solution for that sort of overwhelm: People tend to develop habits that help to guide us easily through the decision making process. Instead of looking at every item available for sale in the grocery store, we automatically and habitually reach for a few tried-and-true favorite items.
Science tells us that, on average, we’re making about 40 percent of all our decisions based on habits.
Do you see the significance of this? It’s huge.
Here’s the main takeaway: The habits you establish will shape your entire life experience. Change your habits, and you could experience breakthrough-level changes in your life.
Let’s try to put this in perspective with an example. Jane and Kate both have similar morning routines. They both wake up at 6:00 in the morning. They both leave for work by 7:30. They both dress in up-to-date business attire and leave for work looking well dressed and well groomed.
There are, however, some big differences in their routines. Jane wakes up, drinks a cup of coffee, eats a donut or some sugary cereal, smokes a cigarette and gets ready for work. Kate wakes up, juices a green smoothie consisting of kale, cucumbers, carrots and apples. Then she does 15 minutes of stretching before getting ready for work.
Which of these ladies is leveraging the power of habits most effectively?
In the grand scheme of things, one cigarette, one donut or one green smoothie really wouldn’t make any difference at all in a person’s life. But when these things each form the basis of a habit, their significance is multiplied. These seemingly small things, over the course of months and years, will result in vastly different life experiences for these two women.
Congrats if you’ve already established great habits like a productive morning routine including activities such as exercise, eating a healthy breakfast and getting yourself to work on time. You’re already harnessing the power of habits and using that power to your advantage.
On the other hand, habits make it possible to sleepwalk through 40 percent of your life without even realizing it or thinking about it. This is something you obviously want to avoid.
Do you come home from work hungry and tired, microwave some convenience food, and then turn on the TV out of habit? Then maybe you sit there in front of the TV set for several hours until it’s bedtime.
What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
Maybe you want to be rich and successful, but you aren’t. Maybe you want ripped abs, but you don’t have them. Maybe you want to write books, but you haven’t got around to it yet.
What are you waiting for?
In those few hours after work that you’re spending in front of the TV set, you could be checking out your options for various investments. You could be doing pushups and situps. You could be getting started on that book that’s in your head.
“But I’m too tired after work,” you say.
Of course you are.
So get creative. Wake up a few hours earlier and plan your investments, work out or write before you have a chance to exhaust yourself from the day’s activities. Then go to work. Then come home tired and go to bed a few hours earlier.
How can you leverage the power of habits to make big improvements in your own productivity? Becoming more deliberate about your habits could result in massive breakthroughs in virtually any aspect of your life.