Most people look for success in the wrong place. It is right under your control. Your habits determine your success.
Success is such a subjective terminology that I refrain from even defining it here. What might be a success to me, might contrast your idea of success. No one is wrong in interpreting success for themselves. However, if there is one thumb rule that underlies beneath all our perceptions of success, it is this- We’d all like to BE better or DO better than right now. We all want to move forward. It could be professionally, personally, or spiritually.
If we know what do we want to achieve, why do most people still find themselves stuck in a loop? A tiring loop of endless efforts and failure.
Why did you not make it to your desired college even after trying for 3 years? How come you are cribbing about the work pressure even after 5 years of working in the same company? Why do you never wake up at 5 am to start jogging even though every night you sleep with an alarm set? Why even a vacation at your favourite hill station won’t give you peace of mind? Why do you still have a strained relationship with the person you love the most?
The answer is HABITS. To be specific Micro Habits that trigger a change in your existing state of mind and body. Habits that separates Go-getters, Winners, and Happy people from the rest of the frustrated lot.
If you’d like to make it to your desired college the 4th time, you have to analyze and change your approach towards studying. You have to understand why you are feeling the work pressure- is it because there is too much work that is beyond your capacity OR do you always keep procrastinating about your responsibilities till the deadline? Be honest. Now you’d say (or I imagine you saying) I do keep a 5 am alarm habitually but still fail to wake up! Well, what is the first thing that you do when you hear your alarm ring? I bet; you snooze it. Isn’t snoozing your habit? Now, I imagine you asking about my next example about the peace of mind. It’s a bit tricky. When you go on a holiday or try to relax wherever you want to, what is it that shifts your mood? Is it a sudden thought about your past, your best friend getting married, or as simple as you not liking the food you just ate? Recognize the flow of thoughts and the relative variation in your mood. This is difficult. It takes years to master but once you know it, you have permanently learnt the art to make your peace of mind independent of your thoughts. You can worry about your next job AND still be at peace knowing the fact that you worrying right now is not going to help you in any way.
What’s trickier than this, you ask? Realizing the impact of habits in your personal life. Many relationships (not necessarily romantic) fail/ become complicated because we try to address the symptoms to find the solution and not the cause when things go downhill. For e.g., after every fight with your friend, you make up by saying you’d never fight again. The matter ends on a happy note. Yet again, after a month or so, you find yourself getting upset with her over trivial things. Slowly you both drift apart to the point when you practically become Known Strangers. Why? You clearly love your friend to bits. However, you both fail to identify that “one” thing that triggers your negative emotions. Yes, triggers your emotions and not fights. Let’s say, hypothetically, your friend’s emotions might be triggered when you laugh during serious conversations; she might think that you don’t understand the depth of her matter. Your emotions might trigger when she boasts in a silly way about her last trip to Spain, thinking why does she have to tell you about it over and over again; especially when you have never been abroad. Everything starts building up subconsciously, sometimes even for years together and bursts at one go during the next available matter.
Things could be more serious than this example but the basic idea remains the same- people fail to address their triggers. They fail to communicate it effectively to the other person in time.
Relationships, most often than not, don’t break because two people have a problem with each other in totality. They break because two people have a problem with each other’s habits.
Most people want to catch a whale but don’t want to pay attention to the quality of the rod. All successful people have an eye for detail and efficient little habits that leave no room for uncertainty.
Micro habits are the little habits that we don’t even notice ourselves doing it but it subconsciously shapes our lives. I am no expert in recommending you how to build better habits. There is no one-ultimate-method for everyone. Since our idea of success is so different, how can our habits, that lead us to that success be the same? However, I do have a few tips that have helped me build better habits for myself; some of which might be against the popular norms-
- Acceptance of your current state- Don’t fight your mind and body. For e.g., if you don’t feel like working at a particular time, first accept it. Change starts with the acceptance of the need to change. It is simple. What you do is what you get. You possibly cannot get a different outcome with the same set of habits.
- Break the habit you want to change into Micro habits. For e.g., if you’d like to quit being a night owl and be an early riser, break the task into units. Start with recording each step you take from the time you decide you’d like to sleep and after you wake up. What do you do, what do you read, till what time are you awake? Recognize the culprit habit. It could be your need to check the smartphone one last time before bed that leads to hours being wasted on social media; or maybe you read crime novels, giving you an adrenaline rush that hampers your sleep. You just have to change this One micro habit of not picking up your phone/reading a calm book during the night that will make you an early bird for life!
- I’d suggest you record your activities in a physical diary with your own handwriting rather than writing it on your smartphone. The reason is, when you write by yourself, your brain tends to repeat the command multiple times before it finally signals your hand to write. Thus, multiple repetitions enable your brain to easily accept the need to change.
- Reward yourself for each micro habit you adopt. This is a proven technique to get us to shed our laziness. It’s similar to rewarding a child with chocolate if he completes his homework faster. For you, it could be your favourite pastry, or a bike ride, or binge-watching your favourite show. Anything that makes you happy.
- Whatever changes you make, stick to it for 21 days no matter how uncomfortable they make you. Scientific data proves that it takes a man exactly 21 days to form a new permanent habit.
- Go all out and leave no stone unturned until you get the desired result. This is against the popular advice of changing one habit at a time. I feel, if you really want to form a habit, you rather do it with all your enthusiasm till the time your willpower fizzles down. Your weak willpower can only be challenged by your paramount enthusiasm screaming for a change or a new habit.
- Next is my favourite one- ask yourself why each day. Why do you want to change? What do you want to become? Where would you like to go from here? It’s amazing, how you get to know your true, better, ugly, selfish, and innocent side in the process.
- Lastly, you know Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Nor are habits! I know science says that it takes only 21 days but consistency takes a lifetime! Be patient with yourself and learn to forgive yourself if you don’t live up to your own expectations. Better habits are for a better you. Besides, your habits are a never-ending cycle. If you’d truly want to improve, you’d have to constantly evolve. So it is okay for you to take time and make mistakes. To err is human. And, you are a human right? Are you not?
On an ending note, do let me know if this article could resonate with you. Writing quality articles consistently is one habit I am trying to build. Your appreciation is my reward.