Creatures of Habit
Jack Nicklaus is considered by pundits to be the greatest golfer of all-time.
Nicklaus never dominated his contemporaries the way Tiger Woods did, BUT the “Golden Bear” was the most consistent golfer of all-time. Jack won the most majors with 18 wins and even finished runner-up 19 times.
Plain and simple, Nicklaus was habitually excellent.
Once, in a critical majors, a psychologist timed the time it took Jack Nicklaus to pull his club out of the bag and hit the ball. Astonishingly, from the first green to the eighteenth hole the time never varied more than a second. Jack Nicklaus, like every other human being, was a creature of habit.
Great free throw shooters make every shot look the same; the best powerlifter of all-time, Ed Coan, made every squat look the same. Knowing you are creature of habit can work as a synergetic force in your pursuit of excellence.
What about the alcoholic, the emotional overeater, the choking athlete or even the known ne’er do well that can’t hold down a job? Unfortunately, habits can be self-sabotaging.
We all have habits we would benefit from changing; let’s take a look at some ways to eliminate bad habits, assuming you have already identified what habits you need to go the way of the Dodo bird. I learned the following five steps from Darren Hardy, one of my favorite authors and CEO of success magazine.
Simply identify–who, what, when and where.
1) Are you more likely to engage in negative talk about others when you are around certain people?
2) What emotions encourage your worst habits? Drinking to excess could be celebratory or drowning your sorrows—find what emotions cause your bad habits to tick.
3) Who are you around when you experience these emotions? Is it a certain time of day, a certain person, a certain TV show? Figure out the trigger for these emotions.
4) Examine your daily routine from what you do to what you say. Furthermore, identify what situations cause the manifestation of bad habits.
Write down your answers to these four questions and you are on the way simply because identification spawns awareness.
Want to quit drinking liquor? Grab every drop of alcohol in your house and pour it down the drain. Throw away the margarita glasses in the cabinet or anything you associate with drinking—this goes far beyond limiting access to alcohol, this is cathartic. Subconsciously, this causes a huge “buy in.”
Want to lose weight? Quit buying junk food, throw out what you have.
Extreme—yes! But so are habits. Eliminate enablers!
Growing up I trained at a gym that was next to a building where people were either chain smoking or drank coffee like it was going out of style. I learned this was an Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter; simply, cigarettes or coffee replaced alcohol. I am not advocating these swaps, simply illustrating a point.
If you are drinking a six pack of coke a day, try substituting it for water with lemon in it. Replace watching TV with reading literature that can help you grow as a human being.
Like to dip? Probably because you like the feeling of that moist tobacco in your mouth, since it’s an oral attraction, give gum a shot. It’s that much more effective to know why you embrace a bad habit—if you like chips for the “crunch,” give carrots a shot.
Swap a bad habit for a healthy alternative that will spark growth.
Some people benefit best from easing away from a bad habit. This is a legitimate approach assuming the bad habit is not seriously destructive. For instance, giving up coffee one could switch from half-decaf/half-regular, to eventually black tea and ultimately off tea. This will eliminate brain fog and headaches.
Not ready to embrace a full on diet? Small things like eliminating sodas can make a huge difference.
Theoretically, this makes sense, BUT most people are less “moderate” than they believe. In fact, one study showed that obese people overwhelmingly under report what they eat. Wishful thinking or dishonesty? No idea, BUT proceed with caution.
G. Gordon Liddy, the only person not to “rat” in the Watergate Scandal, even serving prison time for sticking to his values as a child, was afraid of rats. To overcome this fear, Liddy caught a rat and ate it. BOOM! Fear was gone. Some psychologists call this technique flooding.
Jumping in is much like flooding. To quit smoking, stop now! No weaning, deal with withdrawals now and quit. The beginning will be painful but you will adjust before you know it.
This recently happened to a client of mine. He did not like the way he looked in a picture and made an amazing transformation, 100 percent drug-free, not even taking supplemental fat burners. David went from 12 percent body fat weighing 198 to 5 percent weighing 202, over the course of 18 months, never doing an iota of traditional cardio. He is now reaping the benefits of his new physique with abundant business opportunities as one of the top trainers in Sweden.
Built-in habits are built-in. Sometimes, instead of taking apart the building brick by brick, call in the demolition crew and make the process swift and severe.
Human beings are creatures of habit, plain and simple. In the words of Socrates, “Know thyself.” This will either serve as a catalyst to living your best life now or a door way to derelictry. Yes, I know I made that word up…
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