How habits of thought impact habit change
By Shannon Wagner, Marketing & Community Engagement
It’s no secret that DailyFeats wants to help people build better habits. We continually do research into sustainable behavior change and the technology that makes it possible, and lately I’ve been thinking about my own habits, specifically the ones I’d like to adopt, and why some stick and some don’t.
I’ve tackled some big health feats in the last couple years, including becoming vegetarian and jogging a couple times per week, and experienced no real difficulties building habits there.
But when it comes to my bigger dreams, I’m not nearly as successful and I find it harder to make those dream-related habits stick. What gives?
After some days of soul and Google searching, I came across Kristy Swanson, a personal development coach, and her blog post about The Habit of Fear. In it, Swanson says that when we find ourselves faced with stress-inducing situations, we’re confronted with thoughts of habit, like doubt and fear.
These feelings act as a sort of an anti-cue, meaning they trigger us to not do the thing we set out to do because we’re afraid of failing. As the old saying goes, “I think, therefore I am.” Turns out the opposite is equally true: if you think you’re not, you won’t be.
But Swanson says we should be more bold:
You can either look at things in black and white terms, like success or failure, or you can take a more complex look at your process, what you are learning about yourself, and how you’re gaining by making the effort.
Just like how we at DailyFeats break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable actions, so too should you break down the way you view progress into smaller efforts, understanding that even failing counts as a success because you took a chance and learned something about yourself, and (hopefully) got back on the horse.
According to the team over at Pick the Brain, this view of progress is what separates experts from amateurs and drop-outs (or quitters).
When we think about success and look at the achievements of successful people, all we can see is the superficial layer. We see the successful business, the best selling novel, or the artistic masterpiece. Naturally, we assume that success requires a similar achievement and we’re discouraged because, as beginners, we’re incapable of reaching such heights. This is when most people start thinking in terms of “can’t.”
But we can retrain ourselves to view progress differently — we can change our thought habits. And if we can do that, we can certainly tackle our broader, “grey area” goals.
If we could see successful people as beginners and understand every tiny effort that gradually contributed to their success, we wouldn’t be discouraged by our own initial ignorance. Instead of seeing the path to success as a gargantuan wall, we’d see it as a very long but climbable staircase.
One step might not produce THE result, but it brings you to the next step—one step closer to the top—and that itself is its own success.
In a nutshell, we’re all creatures of habit, and habits are the results of our mental wiring. But whether you want to build new habits or break old ones, it all starts with how you think about your habits and progress.
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And check out our new Think Brighter challenge from Mindful Moon App, designed to help you stay present and focused on what really matters (your limitless potential).