Even after I grasped the revelation that action leads to motivation (not the other way around), I still wasn’t out of the “mud.” I knew I needed to take action, but I often couldn’t bring myself to do it. Often, I was literally stuck.
Then something very odd happened yesterday morning.
My alarm went off at 5:15 am, as normal. I turned it off and snuggled underneath the covers, convincing myself that I needed an extra hour of sleep more than I needed to workout. After all, I was tired. (It’s been a brutal few months by any standards, and I’ve got at least another 30 days of this pace.)
Then I found myself in the kitchen at 5:35, getting a spoonful of almond butter and a banana. I don’t even remember the minutes in between. Getting in the car at 5:40, it dawned on me what really happened.
My habits took over.
Your Life is Your Habits
Science tells us that the great majority of what we do each day is based on habit, not goal-directed thought. Stress makes it even more likely that our habits will take over.
In previous phases of my life, it’s caused me too eat too much, drink incredible amounts of soda, and park myself in front of the television for hours. I’ve even created a “checking in” loop that can turn any device into a time-eating machine: Facebook, Twitter, Email, RSS Feeds, Repeat. Or, I can’t be the only person that always eats to the bottom of the bag or cleans my plate. It happens automatically; I don’t even think about it until it’s over.
It’s called “automaticity,” and we’ve all experienced it. We use it when we ride a bicycle or drive a car, as our instincts take over and we don’t have to think through every single motion. Most of us also trigger it with many of our consumption behaviors: eating, internet, television, etc.
Think about that. Frankly, I find it scary when I realize how robotic I am.
Then I realized that I can choose whether I want to be a good robot or a bad robot.
Your New Superpower
Here’s the real secret: we can train ourselves to apply automaticity to anything we want.
Behaviorial scientists like BJ Fogg have been studying this human phenomenon for decades. They’ve even figured out exactly how to develop it.
To me, that means I can turn my habits into automatic jumper cables.
I know that action leads to motivation, which creates a cycle of more action. And I also know that I can use my habits to cause the first action to happen automatically.
Sounds like a pretty nifty superpower to me, one that’s available to every single one of us.
How will you use yours?