A Work in Progress

An unfinished painting

A Work in Progress
Awake
Yet motionless. 
I know I must arise.
Searching for my why. Look within.
Awake. 

I am sure I am not the only one who occasionally struggles to get out of their warm, cozy, and extremely comfortable bed. The alarm sounds its morning call for you to arise and yet…sometimes we just lay there, staring up at the ceiling. “Just 10 more minutes,” we tell ourselves.

To help me overcome this (and other) shortcomings, I’ve been studying the topic of habits.

For example, in Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit:Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” Charles states that there are four key elements to creating a new habit (such as getting out of bed in the morning when the alarm goes off):

1) Having a “Cue”: This is a signal to start or do something. This could be a scent, a sound, or maybe a picture of “who you would like to be one day” that you have placed on your bathroom mirror. This way every time when you wake up and go into the bathroom you see the photo, and that is your “cue.”

The cue is what alerts your brain to get ready for the next phase, which is “The Ritual or Routine.” So, for example when the lights go out at the movie theatre, that is the cue that the movie is about to start. The key to success here is to keep it simple and consistent.

To create cues for my morning routine I have started to place my journal on my coffee table. When I enter the room, the journal is my cue to sit down and do my morning gratitude practice. I place my headphones next to the journal. This is the cue for me to do my meditation, because when I meditate,I like to listen to soothing sounds with “theta” or “delta” waves in the background to help me relax.

2) The Ritual or Routine: Repetition is key. According to Charles Duhigg, it takes about 21 days for a habit to form. Now I have heard longer amounts of time and I apologize that at this moment I cannot remember where I heard this. But the point here is that you must do the work. If on a particular day I am “running out of time” then I will still do that thing for at least a couple of minutes just to drill it in my brain. And then I try to complete it later that day. Repetition!

3) The Reward: Ahh, now comes the incentive. We need to give ourselves a reward. The reward tells the brain that the habit is worth remembering. So, if the routine was showing up to the gym, then perhaps your reward is a delightful smoothie. In Mel Robbins book, “The High 5 Habit,” Mel suggests giving a “high 5” to yourself in the mirror as a reward after you accomplish your routine or task. Whatever the reward you choose to give yourself, make it personal, clearly defined, and be consistent with it. Remember…repetition!

4) Craving: This last element is what brings the “habit loop” all together. It drives the whole thing home. And companies like P&G spend millions of dollars on finding “exactly” what your cravings are to bring their products into your home! But our purpose for right now is to develop cravings for the rewards that you plan to give to yourself. For the gym example the reward was the smoothie. Your craving can be thinking of how delicious that smoothie is going to taste once you have finished your workout routine. The craving helps our brains push through the routine. It helps us get up out of that bed. It’s the push, the drive, which helps lock in the habit.

And one last final ingredient that Charles Duhigg talks about in his book, “The Power of Habit; Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business” and that is what he refers to as the Golden Rule which comes down to “Belief.” You must ‘believe’ that change is possible for you. Charles sites several studies with the Alcohol Anonymous with its 12 Step Program. In these studies it showed that the people who believed in something more than just themselves such as in a higher source and believed it was possible for them, overcame their obstacles more often and were a lot more successful.

I do believe our daily habits are what truly drives us every single day. You really have two choices: To be the programmer of your daily routines and design the life of your dreams…or to let “life” and others be the programmers, and let the outside world push you along.

I choose to be my own programmer. But I do realize that some days I will fall. When that happens, I must get back up, forgive myself and give it another go. I realize I am a work in progress and this is a lifetime journey.

I encourage you to take charge of your daily actions and create your own daily habits to help you move into the higher version of yourself. You might slip on occasion, and that is okay. Just dust yourself off and take another step forward. And then another. And then another. One step at a time.

Do something that inspires you to be your best!

Live, to Love Life!
~ Brad Rhoades

*If you know someone who could use a “Midweek Motivation” and a bit of inspiration, please share.
Thank you.

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