A habit is something you can do without thinking – which
is why most of us have so many of them. ~Frank A. Clark
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps
you going. ~Jim Ryun
These two quotes go together so well for me. It is true that motivation can get us started, but motivation has a difficult time keeping us going for the long haul. How many times have you started something only to give up? Believe me, you do not want to know how many times I have done it.
Think of all the people that smoke. It often is a habit to them. For some, like my mother, it is a habit that they believe they can never break. They did not begin smoking with the habit in mind. That was not their motivation. For some it was an attempt to look cool or fit in. For others, the source of their motivation may have been just a keen interest in what they were missing. Whatever the motivation, once they get hooked on the habit of smoking, they are not doing it because they thought about it but more as something that they simply do. She no longer thinks about smoking other than to make sure that she has the necessary supplies. After every meal, my mom has to smoke. It doesn’t matter what she has to do to get it. She will even go outside in the middle of a storm. It is a habit with her and if she doesn’t get it, then she starts into a panic.
Just like my mom created a habit of smoking, I have a habit of being a packrat. I no longer think about whether I need to keep something or not. I store it somewhere. I do this automatically without even thinking. My original motivation was not having something that I needed. It was so long ago that now I can not even think what it was. Regardless, the motivation does not matter any longer, only the habit. More correctly, breaking the habit is where I need to concentrate my time.
In order to break a habit, sometimes it is necessary to understand how the habit came to be. From that one presumably innocent moment in time where the motivational spark was so great, actions are repeated until it is no longer necessary to think about them only to react to the programmed stimulus for action. For a smoker, it may be the thought of going to sleep or finishing a meal. For a pack rat like me, it is simply the object coming into my home. In order to break that habit, I need to recognize what stimulates me to perform the actions of the habit. Then I need to make a conscious decision to resist the urge of the reaction to the stimulus.
For some this may be easy, but for others it may be the most difficult thing they have ever done. For me, breaking the habit of being a pack rat is one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. It isn’t always a bad habit. Any habit taken to the extreme can become a bad habit. For me, it has now become a bad habit. One that I choose to try to break.
I actually have several habits that I want to break. I do not believe that I am capable of working on them all at once. For that reason, I have decided to take one habit at a time and concentrate on creating it into a habit or changing the negative habits into positive habits.
What habits do you have? Do you feel it is a positive or a negative habit?