When was the last time you made a real, lasting, positive change in your life? Has it been a while? Most of us know what we’d like to improve, and which goals we want to achieve, but actually doing the thing is where we tend to falter.
We rely too heavily on willpower and optimism, and pretty soon we’ve given up on going to the gym or cooking at home or spending quality time with our partner or reading more professional books or…you get the idea. Basically, we expect our lives to change without putting careful thought into which habits we need to put in place to support that change.
I love this quote by Jim Rohn: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
What is a habit, really? It’s something we do regularly, naturally, and often. And let me tell you: Good habits—small habits—bite-sized, doable habits—are really underrated.
Habits often feel small, boring, or ineffective because they usually don’t have a big, immediate payoff. When you put a new habit into place, the level of performance you eventually want to achieve feels painfully far away. This is hard on us as we tend to like immediate gratification. But the value of a habit is in its cumulative effect.
Good habits help you achieve consistency. They keep you on track and moving forward, even if it’s incremental.
Often, getting over the finish line is less about having all the answers or accumulating subject matter expertise, and more about simply showing up and executing every single day. In a nutshell, habits help you do the hard stuff.
The other thing about habits is they let people know who we are and how we do things, which is incredibly important in building a solid reputation.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a book about etiquette and good manners. She claimed that people often miss the reasoning behind why these things matter. They aren’t just a series of rigid rules you should follow, but they are designed to help others know what to expect and make them feel comfortable. I feel similarly about habits.
The point isn’t to always do the right thing or never make a mistake; it’s to reduce uncertainty and anxiety—not just yours but other people also.
When people know what to consistently expect from you in terms of behavior, attitude, and reliability (all of which are rooted in habits), they know how to better partner with you, and you will earn their respect for being someone they can count on.
In time you’ll be entrusted with more responsibility and given greater opportunities. Sure, a brilliant idea or outstanding achievement might get you noticed and catapulted forward, but much more often, it’s habits and consistency. It’s about showing up every day and doing the next right thing.
So much depends on our habits: our health, happiness, relationships, professional success, and more. I encourage you to do an audit of your life. What are some things you want to change or improve? What small habits might help you begin to build consistency and improvement in that area?
Sometimes we get focused on building new habits and don’t spend any time on breaking bad ones. When you are doing this audit across your personal and professional life, I’d encourage you to not only make a list of the things you want to start doing, but also the things you want to stop.
I cannot say enough about the difference small but mighty habits have made in my life and how they have impacted me cumulatively over time. Reminds me of another quote I love: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” —Aristotle
Be sure to check back in the Community Voices section of the Local Pulse often. I’ll be writing regularly about specific habits that have improved my life. I think they may help you move the needle on yours, too.
Nicole Webb Bodie
Partner, Healthcare Plus Solutions Group
Contact me at Nicole@HealthcarePlusSG.com
*Note from Local Pulse Editor: Nicole Webb Bodie is a part of our Community Voices series. Community Voices is a group of Pensacola dwellers that are making a difference in our city by sharing best practices, experiences, their perspective on impactful subjects, and contributing expertise that leads to movement forward for a stronger community.