Our lives are based on habits—good and bad. The decisions we make daily have consequences and it is the habits we choose that create these consequences whether they are beneficial to us or hurt us. We have choices and what we eventually do with our choices will produce an outcome—an outcome we are pleased with or one that may need a little more attention. Unpleasant outcomes can often be changed. The choices we have made have put us in the place we are in now.
With proper habits we could set in motion results that could be good for us and with mini and micro habits we can make the journey easier and more fruitful with a higher degree of achievement and with a well deserved feeling of accomplishment. And this accomplishment could make for a peak experience that catches momentum.
So what is a habit and why should I be interested in them? A habit is simply a behavior that repeats itself regularly. In many cases it can be an unconscious behavior or routine. Habits are developed over a period of time.
Everyone has habits of some form and you should be interested in habits for the very fact that habits form and structure your everyday life. Some people have formed habits with eating, drinking and exercising: An unhealthy habit can be stopping in at your corner doughnut shop and getting a doughnut and coffee every morning. An expensive habit can be stopping in at your local Starbucks or Panera Bread and getting a fancy coffee, bagel or breakfast sandwich. Done regularly, this stop can be a habit which can be hard to break because it fills many comforts. And over the course of a year, this habit can be an expensive one and an unhealthy one high in fat and calories your body does not need.
Why 40 habits in 40 days?
There is something very good and very special about the number 40. In the bible God used 40 days to transform people: It rained for 40 days and 40 nights after Noah and his family were saved from the flood—and the world was transformed; Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai—and He was transformed; Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness—He was tested; God gave Elijah one meal that gave him strength for 40 days—and He was transformed. Yes, the number 40 is significant because it is evident that God uses 40 days to transform people—and this is why we will use 40 days as well.
How are Habits Formed?
Habits are formed by the regular repetition of a behavior; this behavior becomes automatic—the behavior or process becomes habitual. The process can be slow, ranging from two weeks of repetition to almost a year.
Studies have shown that there are three parts to a habit: (1) the cue; (2) the behavior; and (3) the reward.
The cue is what causes the habitual behavior. The behavior is the habit itself. And the reward is the feeling you receive. This is usually a good or positive feeling. An interesting thing about the reward is that the habit is usually triggered with a set goal in mind. Therefore, the habit is formed to procure a specific goal. (For learning about goal setting get a copy of Mini Goals: Huge Results).
Here is an example: every morning when you wake up you might go to the kitchen and make a pot of coffee. You do this every day, every morning—and usually around the same time. Even when you have gotten plenty of rest you still make the coffee. When you are tired, coffee peps you up—there is a recognized benefit. When you are already well rested you probably do not need the coffee to pep you up but you make it just the same and take a cup as you do every morning. Your morning of making coffee has formed into a habit. This can also be said for those of you who visit Starbucks or get your coffee from a local place on the way to work. Habits have now been formed and when you alter the habit by missing a day you might feel physically or mentally different, or you may feel that something is wrong with your day. Breaking habits are hard when you have conditioned yourself over a long period of time.
Habits and Goals
Many habits are formed by having a goal in mind. The goal is what motivates a habit to form by the response repetition of a process to form a habit.
Behavior prediction is also derived from goals. Behavior prediction is to acknowledge a habit will form, but in order to form that habit, a goal must have been initially present. The influence of goals on habits is what makes a habit different from other automatic processes in the mind. (Neal, D., Wood, W., Labrecque, J., & Lally, P. (2011). How do habits guide behavior? perceived and actual triggers of habits in daily life . Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, (48), 492-498)
Why Mini and Micro Habits?
Since habits have to be formed, isn’t it easier to form good, healthy, small habits as opposed to trying to form big habits? Habits can change your life and make you into the super productive person God made you to be. Can you form good mini and micro habits quicker with less stress and with a higher degree of accuracy? Yes, you can and in this book I am going to outline a few habits that can be easy to form and that will have the potential to make you into a super productive force of unabashed accomplishments.
All of us want to be more productive in life, whether at home, the office, in sports, or out in the field. If you are actively in sporting competitions then you will need to be producing to keep your position, and this really goes for everybody who wants more and wants to progress in life at a pace that is noticeable.
I have found that forming good mini and micro habits have the power to transform a life filled with fear and uncertainly into a life filled with confidence and one with success obedience—that is, a life built to produce positive results with an optimistic, hope-filled future.
Good habit building can only lead to success—there is no way around it—it is definite. And the successful have always gotten to the top by forming and following habits that move them in the direction they want to go.
Now that you have a little background on habits, let’s begin.
In the weeks to come (every Thursday), I am going to give you ideas of good, healthy habits. If you are committed, you can follow along and initiate the habits into your life. We are going to call these habits mini and/or micro habits because they will be small changes or activities that will not require much time or much effort. By making small changes you will magnify the results.
Mini Habit Are Simple to Start But Fear Could Hold You Back
Some habits may appear simplistic or even obvious. Don’t let this prevent you are trying it for your 40 day journey. All habits that are good habits will build you into the person you want to be. What do you tell a child when it is ready to stand and walk? You say “baby steps.” That’s right, you need to start off by taking baby steps. A progression of baby steps over many weeks will get you from where you are to where you want to be. It is a matter of getting started and then finishing. Many people may start with honest intentions of finishing, but few actually finish. This is not because we do not want to finish, it is because of three things that get in our way: 1) Procrastination; 2) Disorganization: and 3) Not truly wanting to change.
We can contribute “fear” to each of the three responses. Fear is the emotion that binds all three together. We procrastinate because of an inner fear. This fear could associated with the fear of accomplishment or of growing into a mature adult. When we are disorganized in our lives are build walls around us. Have you ever seen the television show “Hoarders”? These people have buried themselves in their house because of fear. Usually, a traumatic event or a perceived traumatic event has occurred in their life. Unable to adequately deal with the situation, the person has build physical barriers to help protect them from the fear of the situation happening again. Whatever fears you have that are preventing you form forming good habits will have to be dealt with sooner or later. Let's work on the sooner now.
Our first good habit this week is:
Good Mini Habit #1: Go to Sleep 15 Minutes Earlier
Sleep is important. Most of us know this. However, most of us are not getting enough of it. Do you go to bed when you are tired or do you go to bed at a certain, predetermined time? Perhaps both; you go to bed tired at a predetermined time because your biological clock is set somewhat permanently after years of conditioning of going to sleep and waking up at around the same time day after day.
Getting enough sleep can make you more alert and productive, there are also health benefits. This section could also be categorized under health/fitness—so getting adequate sleep is minimum twofold for beneficial purposes.
If you sleep for eight hours and wake up tired, you are not getting enough quality sleep. There could be many reasons for this: bad diet, worry and stress, overweight, money issues, or other medical reasons. You probably know the problem causer or have a good idea of the culprit. But whatever the case, you need more sleep. By hitting the hay fifteen minutes earlier you might get the extra sleep needed to be refreshed, rejuvenated and invigorated. Try it and see what happens. Changing habits is experimental. You change to better yourself, but with many new changes you never know the extent of the change until you try it. If after a while you find that it isn’t working for you, you try to alter the process or try something different altogether. Perhaps you will need an extra 30 minutes of sleep?
If you have been conditioned to sleep at a certain time, it may be hard to fall asleep at first. Try reading in bed a novel that you have already read.
By changing your sleeping habits you might benefit greatly with a well deserved night’s sleep. I have found that just an extra few minutes of solid sleep can mean a world of difference from waking up fresh and rested to groggy and tired as though I’ve been running in my sleep. Yes, the proper amount of sleep makes a world of difference.
Exercise Habit: Do this habit for a week and see the change in you. If you find that it is working well and you are feeling better rested, try 20-30 minutes. Your body and the clarity of your mind will let you know the results.