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Why are good habits so important?
Everyone talks about how the right habits can change your life.
That’s all good and well, but why exactly are habits such a great thing?
Take a moment to think about some kind of bad habit you’ve got: something like smoking, eating junk food, watching too much TV or scrolling a lot on social media.
All of these things seem to be addictive, right? It’s incredibly hard to get rid of them. And you know why that is?
Because habits are patterns that basically got molded into your brain! They’re automated processes that allow your brain to pretty much turn itself off.
But the best thing about it is that you can do the same thing with positive and healthy routines.
That’s just a small part of why good habits are important. Let’s look at this question in detail.
What are the benefits of habits?
Habits have a lot of benefits, the most important one being that you can turn a behavior in an automated process.
It’s like when you’re going home from work. Doesn’t matter which mode of transportation you use, you’ll likely never have to think about the way, right? It just happens!
It sometimes happens to me that I completely forget one part of the way home and I wouldn’t be able to explain it. But I know it exactly whenever I’m driving home.
That’s the power of habit! Which is by the way also the title of Charles Duhigg’s book which I highly recommend.
You can think about completely different things while driving home because the way is memorized by your subconscious.
In fact, about 40% of our daily actions aren’t based on conscious decision but they’re habits!
That’s a whole lot!
Why should we adopt good habits?
Habits can go one way or another.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to adopt bad habits.
The reason for that is that the behavior starts with a cue and ends with a reward. The better the reward and the easier the action, the quicker you mind gets used to the habit-loop.
For instance, for eating junk food the cue could be having lunch with your colleagues at a fast food restaurant. And the reward would be that you like the taste and maybe you also have good memories of coming to this place.
The point with bad habits is that they’re easy. It doesn’t take any effort to go to a fast food restaurant. Plus, the food tastes good for the majority of people.
So, everything about this process is easy and comfortable, which is why it will become a habit very quickly.
Good habits are generally routines that are much harder to adopt. For instance, working out takes a lot of effort. It’s physically draining, and it also takes time out of your day where you might want to do easier things.
As a result, it will take much longer to adopt good habits, 66 days on average, to be precise. I’ve discussed this question in detail in my article about the question “how many days does it take to develop a habit?”
Once you managed to set up a new habit, it will have the same effect as bad habits, though!
This means you won’t even think about the process anymore. You’ll just go to the gym and you’ll probably even look forward to it because there will be a reward at the end, like you’ll feel really fit and healthy.
And this is why you should adopt good habits. Good habits will help you lead a healthy lifestyle, stay physically fit and succeed at everything you want.
Why habits are important to success
Let’s quickly take a closer look at why habits are important for success.
Most people think that you need a lot of self-discipline in order to be successful at their job or in their business.
While it’s true that it takes a lot of work to become successful, habits can actually act as a substitute for self-discipline!
That’s truly amazing because willpower is a limited resource. You don’t have an endless amount of it and so you can’t just use it all the time!
If you make working hard a habit, though, things become soooo much easier.
As I’ve mentioned before, the task will soon become a routine where your brain can be used for other things.
So, instead of using your brain to produce enough willpower to finally start working, you simply need to set a cue or trigger and let the habit process do the rest.
To find out more about this topic, make sure to check out my article about self-discipline.
You can turn bad habits into good ones
The last benefit of good habits is that you can switch your bad habits to good ones.
Sounds like magic but is reality!
Every habit contains 3 parts: cue/trigger, routine and reward.
If you want to change a bad habit into a good one, you can use the same trigger and attach a different behavior to it. Even easier is to find a different cue, though.
Then you’ll need to find some kind of reward that doesn’t hurt your good habit to complete the 3-step process.
Let’s take watching TV for the whole evening as a bad habit that you want to replace with a good habit or exercising as an example. The cue would be leaving from work.
Instead of going home, you go straight to the gym. This will take some willpower for the first few days until it really becomes a routine.
After that, you could reward yourself with watching a little TV (or even better, watch TV while running on the treadmill!). Or the reward could simply be that you’re feeling good. Another idea for a reward is that you’ll get to read your favorite book.
Just think about what you could look forward to that doesn’t harm your good habit. Eating junk food as a reward wouldn’t make much sense for example.
In my article about how habits are formed and how they can be changed this topic is discussed more in-depth.
7 reasons why good habits are so important
Now that you’ve understood the general benefits of good habits, let’s look at why good habits are so important for a healthy and successful life.
1. Tasks get automated
As mentioned before, habits make tasks become automated.
That’s not only a huge time saver but it also saves you tons of willpower!
It always takes some amount of willpower to get a habit started. But the good thing is that you’ll only need it for the first few days. If you’re using the 3-step process I’ve explained earlier, you’ll soon realize that the task has become a routine. As long as you attach the behavior to the cue, it gets easier every day.
2. Habits help you develop self-discipline
Habits are also incredibly valuable to develop self-discipline.
Have you ever wondered how top athletes manage to exercise so often?
Sure, they like sports. But the real reason is because they made it a habit!
They have processes and cues set up that makes them go to the gym without losing a thought about potential other things that could distract them.
It seems incredibly disciplined, they just do it without a second thought. However, that only works so well because they’ve done the same processes on an extremely regular basis for years!
That’s one of the best examples how habits can substitute for self-discipline with only a fraction of the willpower required.
To learn more, definitely make sure to check out my article on the question “why do I have no self-discipline?“
3. Good habits help us reach our goals
What are your goals in life?
Maybe you want to become a millionaire, maybe you want to get the most amazing abs or maybe you want to build the house of your dreams.
Maybe you don’t even know what your goals are, though. If that’s the case, I highly recommend checking out these 7 tips on how to set goals and actually achieve them.
Regardless of what your primary goal is, good habits will get you there much easier.
Most of our goals require a great deal of work. So, setting up a habit of working a certain amount of time on it on a regular basis will make it much easier and more fun! At some point, work won’t even feel like work anymore. Instead, it’s something enjoyable because you always get that reward in the end.
4. Habits can replace motivation
Just as habits can replace self-discipline, they can also replace motivation.
Have you ever struggled to be motivated to get your work done efficiently?
I certainly have. There are days where I feel like I don’t get anything done!
But I since I’ve adopted the habit of using the Pomodoro Technique, it has become so much easier. I’m using distraction as the cue for me to start a Pomodoro. And the reward is that productivity makes me feel simply amazing because I’m so much more productive! It’s kind of addictive…
Now, I don’t need any motivation for work. Whenever I get distracted, I start a 25-minute working session. That makes me feel so good that I want more of it!
5. You can use your brain for other things in the meantime
Now this point obviously doesn’t work for every good habit.
Habits that require your brain, such as working in a productive manner, won’t let you turn off your brain.
Every other habit will make a great deal of space for thinking about other things, though.
Let’s take doing the dishes after eating as an example.
Instead of putting it off until the next day and having a bad conscious every time you walk into the kitchen, you don’t need to use another thought about it. You’ll immediately get to it while your mind can wander off.
It can take a whole lot of time to get motivated to do the dishes if you keep putting it off. This might even happen subconsciously without you even noticing it.
You’ll constantly get reminded that you still need to do it, though and that’s draining!
Adopting this habit will save you all that time. Plus, you’ll feel so good while you’re cleaning up that your mind is happy to think about more important things.
6. You’ll be much more productive
As you can see, habits will help you become much more productive.
You’ll save so much time that you’d otherwise be thinking about the dreaded task. Or that you’d feel bad about still not having it done.
Plus, doing something you dislike usually takes much more time than if it’s simply a habit.
7. Habits help you to be organized
Since you can adopt habits for about any task, they can also help you significantly at becoming more organized.
Do you struggle with your house being a mess most of the time?
Then why not start picking up habits to clean it up.
For instance, always do the dishes right after you finished eating. Or pick up clothes for 5 minutes before going to bed.
It’s important that you start small and slowly and gradually extend them. When one thing becomes a routine, you can go on to the next.
This will help you become a much more organized person without wasting a ton of willpower and still not getting it done.
Which habits are most useful?
Now you might be wondering which habits are actually the most useful in your day to day life.
Well, you’re in luck!
Because I’ve got another article about 14 good daily habits to pick up.
These are all small routines that you can easily incorporate into your daily life but that will make a huge difference!
Have fun trying them out!