“First we make our habits, and then our habits make us”- Our Daily Bread
When I was a University student waking up early for me was any time after 2:00pm. I couldn’t understand then why my parents were not impressed with this late rising. They’d always say in that ominous voice something along the lines of “you reap what you sow”. Never understood the need for this doomsday tone of voice either. Then fast forward many years later and I am now a parent with young children. I still remember my first sleepless night and still had to function during the day-boy I didn’t know grains of sand in your eyes could ever feel as big as the ones that for the next 5 years seemed to constantly spring up in my eyes. I started to understand what my parents were getting at- sort of.
Fast forward another decade and I am now training myself to join what Robin Sharma calls the ‘early risers club” I love being a member in this club! This is when I really began to understand what my parents were getting at about reaping what you sowed. And this brings me to the topic of this blog- habits. While reading my morning devotion which by the way is a habit I’ve developed for more than a decade now- I came across the quotation-“First we make our habits, and then our habits make us”. I can attest to this being so true. There was a time I’d be miserable all day if I didn’t get 8 or 9 hours sleep, today I need much less than 8 and I am far more productive and creative today with fewer hours of sleep. My mind is sharp and functions as a well-oiled machine- at least that’s what I think.
Habits are made by us but then they do end up making us. I see evidence of this truth in families and organizations. Remember, both are different sides of the same coin. Don’t believe this to be true? I’ve worked in organizations where the CEO does not stop to eat lunch, take a mental health break or head home before 7:00pm. When his direct reports tried to create some semblance of work-life balance in their lives- this was indirectly frowned upon. The result- no one (except for me- hence I am fully self-employed now- absolutely refused to be a slave to the career!) practiced any habits that remotely looked like work-life balance. I was recently told by a former colleague who is still employed in this organization that even when he’s on holidays- not only does he leave his cell phone number for them to call him- he worries over whether there will be enough signal for his phone to work!
Habits also are made by families and then they make them. Look at your own family habits- sometimes you won’t notice them because they are so engrained, it’s almost as if these habits are like a second skin. I had a client who as soon as she crosses the threshold of the house turns on the TV. While the TV is going, dinner is quickly prepared and the whole family- children, mom and dad sit in front of the TV eating dinner watching their favourite shows. This goes on for a couple of hours. Then the habit continues to being on the computer- more screen time watching news channels and being part of various social media. If all this wasn’t more than enough- she takes her tablet with her to bed where she continues watching all sort of garbage for the mind shows. To boot, she complained about having difficulty sleeping and losing weight- hello? Check your habits.
So what habits have you made and how have they made you? Are you in the habit of acknowledging others- not just at work but also at home? Saying thank you and letting people know how much you appreciate them and what they do for you- no matter how big or small the action- is a healthy habit that will make you into an appreciative and gracious person.
What habits do you have that builds the health of your mental pillar? How have your thought habits made you? Do you see the good in people? Do you hold grudges and just refuse to let go of real or perceived hurts others have caused you? How healthy are your relationships? Recognize the habit of holding onto to past hurt and pain is a habit that is making you be a hurting and painful person today. The habit of choosing not to see the good in people is a habit that makes you a suspicious, untrusting and untrustworthy person. Remember, “You can’t see in others what you fail to see in yourself”
Finally, what habits have you made in terms of foods you eat, how much exercise you get each day and your general health and well-being? How have these habits made you? Are you overweight, out of shape and just not living your best life possible? If you answered yes, to ‘fix’ these problems take a look at your habits. You might need help to do this because habits can become a second skin- you don’t even notice they are there. Take this short quiz to assess if your habits are getting in your way http://ultimatepotentials.com/self-awareness-quiz/