Habit Upgrade Anyone?
How many of you brush your teeth without thinking about it? I know I do, except when I am due to visit the dentist, and then my extra vigilant brushing practically becomes a mindful practice! This is how (Whilst mindfully brushing my teeth) I found myself thinking about habits.
According to Charles Duhigg author of the ‘Power of Habits’ every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop,” which is a three-part process. First, there’s a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode, second the behavior unfolds and finally your brain remembers everything so that you can repeat it in the future.
What I find interesting about habits is that as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts.
“In fact, the brain starts working less and less,” says Duhigg. “The brain can almost completely shut down.” Of course this has its advantages because it means you have lots of mental space to devote to something else. On the flip side though, when we fall asleep to our habits we fail to recognise if our habitual patterns are helping or hindering our growth and development.
Perhaps one of the most useful habits we can cultivate as leaders and coaches is the habit of becoming aware of our habits! The payoffs are immense. When we become aware of how we ‘shut down’ in the midst of a habit we can begin to reclaim the freedom to choose our actions and our responses. As leaders and coaches when we stay awake to our habitual thoughts and behaviours we are noticing what started as an effective way of operating, is still effective.
The truth is whilst some habits are useful, (like breathing for example!) a life filled with habits is often a life spent going through the motions, robbed of joy, excitement and personal growth.
So, why not catch a few of your habits in the act and ask if they have had their day and are due for an upgrade?
Join us on The Quest for Authenticity to find out more about how self awareness could help you develop good habits.
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