The importance of good habits

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Kevin Mangelschots

Can you imagine having to think about every little thing that you do from your waking moment until you go to bed?

We would get overwhelmed by the various stimuli we would experience by constantly living inside our own heads. Living constantly in our own mind would be too mentally draining to keep up. Luckily for us, it doesn’t take all that long before a habit becomes automatic.

Let me explain why the importance of habits can’t be overstated.

Why are habits important?

Image of the word “goals” written on a small blackboard with chalk.

Healthy habits important because they are unconsciously fixed patterns that are programmed into our lives to lighten the load placed on our minds. The word “programmed” is of vital importance here.

This frees up the valuable, limited amount of energy and time that we have at our disposal to make essential, conscious decisions instead of fretting over the small things.

Our routines are the result of conscious and unconscious processes that are established over time. These habits don’t suddenly appear, but rather grow from multiple different actions until they become well organized, structured, and regularly undertaken actions which we call routines or habits.

These small, seemingly insignificant things we do every day without paying any attention to eventually add up and lets us reach large goals and dreams.

Good, healthy daily routines are critical whether it is for health reasons, personal hygiene, or achieving our dreams. Whatever you want to accomplish in your life, you’ll need well-thought-out routines in order to do so.

Motivation gets you started, but discipline/routines get you there.

While good habits can work in your favor and allow you to reach whatever goal you aim at, bad routines can work against you and turn you into a lesser version of yourself than you could be.

Healthy routine and habits example

Fit dark skinned woman cutting healthy vegetables and fruits.

Let’s take the goal of losing weight because you are overweight as an example of the importance of establishing healthy routines.

At first, you are probably motivated, and will diligently follow your plan to eat less, consume clean foods, to go to the gym, to lift weights, and do your cardio as a result. However, as time passes by, your motivation for doing the same thing day in day out that you don’t always want to do will start to dwindle.

If you keep doing this strict schedule for long enough, then it’s almost inevitable that you are going to experience a drop in motivation. Because eating clean, training diligently, and consuming less foods is hard work.

Yet, this is where our now newly formed healthy habits kick in. Even though your motivation might have started to dwindle, you’ve still established the healthy habits of eating clean, ingesting less food, and going to the gym in order to work out. These now unconscious habits enable you to reach your personal goals of dropping weight and getting into better shape.

Bad routine and habits example

fast food and unhealthy eating concept - close up of fast food snacks and coca cola drink on wooden table

Let’s use the weight example again for our convenience. Only this time, we’ll create a possible scenario of how poor habits can get you to the point of obesity.

You eat too much, and consume a lot of junk food instead of clean, healthy food. You don’t exercise because you are too tired or lazy, and would much rather lie down on the couch after you come home from work. You attribute being overweight to bad genetics, and you rationalize that there is nothing you could possibly do to change your body shape.

There are multiple bad habits in this example. And each poor custom enforces the other bad routines, making them more powerful, and thus, harder to change them into purposeful traditions.

This means customs can work for you, but also against you. The first example of the weight loss was an example of healthy routines working for you, while the second illustration of gaining weight was an example of unhealthy and bad routines at play.

Time is precious, which means you shouldn’t waste it on meaningless, detrimental traditions that serve no purpose other than satisfying your impulsive, lustful desires.

How to establish good habits

Goal, plan, action text on light box on desk table in home office. Business motivation or inspiration, performance of human concepts ideas.

  1. Analyze your old routines

    If you want to establish new, healthy routines, then that immediately implies you’ve got outdated and worse routines at this very moment that you wish to change.

    Try to analyze both the strengths and weaknesses in your current processes. It doesn’t mean everything about your current routines is bad, even though you want to, and probably can improve them. Try to keep the perks of the old routines while eliminating the imperfections.

    “What parts of your current customs are you unhappy with? What components need to be adjusted or eliminated completely in order to create useful, purposeful habits?”

    Those are all possible questions that we can use to figure out what is going right and wrong with our current traditions.

    Rarely do we get things exactly right the way we want to from the get go. The same can be said about forming healthy routines. Factor in that a lot of our unhealthy habits originate from unconsciously learned behavior during our childhood, and it’s not hard to imagine how those bad customs become stuck after a while.

  2. Develop a plan

    Image of someone explaining something to another person while pointing at a notebook.

    Take the benefits of your current routines, delete the failings of the old procedures, and add new, positive daily habits that will help you reach your goals.

    In order to do so, you’ll need to formulate your goals as precisely as possible. This way, you know exactly what you’re aiming at, and what you will need to modify and do in order to accomplish them.

  3. Test your newly formed routines

    Image of the word “testing” being written by someone's hand with a blue marker on a white background.

    This will require you to put in a conscious effort at first.

    You will need to get rid of old, poor habits, which can be tricky to do depending on how long those bad customs have been established.

    Try out your newly formed traditions in different kinds of tasks.

  4. Evaluate the new routines

    One of the best ways to set up good uses is to evaluate if they’re up to par, and if they’re working appropriately.

    “Are the new routines working as intended? Do they work as you expected, or do you think they can be improved even more? Are there weaknesses in the new routine that need to be changed?”

    All those questions are useful to find out if your new regulars are to your satisfaction.

  5. Adjust or create new routines

     

    The quote, “time for change” written with an illustration of a frog moving out with a suitcase.

    If you find out during the evaluation of your new customs that they still have holes in their structure and that there’s room for improvement, then it’s time to adjust your newly formed traditions. This way, you can make them as beneficial as you possibly can.

    If you discover that your new routines are not working at all, or not working as intended, it might be better to start from scratch in order to set up new ones that improve your existence.

  6. Confirm and generalize the new routines

    If the evaluation of your new routines are positive, then it’s time to confirm those newly created positive behaviors.

    If your intended goal was helping others for instance, then you can start out by helping your direct family at first, and later on generalizing this kind of behavior at work, with your friends, and lastly, by aiding strangers.

    This way, you’ll utilize your new skills in every facet of your daily life.

What does routine mean?

Image of the word routine being explained.

Routines are unconscious, fixed patterns that we repeat daily, or at least very often.

They are of vital importance to reduce mental stress that making conscious decision requires during the day, and to attain our specific goals that we strive to reach one day.

Since we’re mostly unaware of them, and are typically formed unconsciously, they often times don’t get nearly the amount of attention they truly deserve.

Yet, purposeful, useful daily traditions are required in order to do well in life and to stay healthy.

What are the benefits of good habits?

  1. Allow us to achieve our goals

     

    Short term and long term written with a black marker by someone's hand on a board.

    One of the main benefits of good habits is that it allows us to attain our lofty goals.

    That’s because the things we do each day without paying any attention to probably matter most in the end. That’s why we must make sure that they’re in the right order since they can make us successful over time, but also fail when we compile too many poor ones.

  2. The right habits help us become the person we want to be in life

    If we do most things decently each day, then these routines can assist us in becoming the person we want to be.

    Becoming a decent individual requires a lot of hard work, time, energy, and intelligence. These are traits that aren’t developed easily. Thus, we must work on these skills each day before we can even hope to become someone of worth one day.

  3. Good routines allow us to improve our quality of life

    Image of the rearview of a woman holding both thumbs up.

    Good daily habits such as brushing your teeth, exercising a couple of times per week, and learning to delay gratification are all essential to improve our quality of life.

    They’re essential to our personal wellbeing even though we might not always enjoy these things, nor want to carry them out each day.

    Without them, we can never become someone valuable who’s capable and succeeds as a result.

  4. Good habits assist us to aid those around us

    Whenever we put our own lives in order, we free up valuable time to assist other people. Not to mention that we gain the necessary experience that we need before we can even try helping those around us.

    Aiding others is also a good habit to have, seeing as it improves the lives of others, society as a whole, and even that of our own since they’re more likely to support us in times of need.

  5. Purposeful habits permit us to collect lifelong profit

     

    Image of a blackboard with the word “benefits” written on it with white chalk.

    Good customs consume very little energy once in place since they occur outside our awareness, which means they’re only time intensive and resource demanding when we’re still establishing them.

    However, once they’re generalized, we’re able to use them to assist us for the rest of our lives, freeing up valuable time and energy to make conscious decisions about important matters that require our full attention.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why do we create routines?

The word “why” written multiple times on a blue background with question marks surrounding it.

We create routines because we as human beings only have a limited amount of conscious attention available to us. This focus is necessary in order to make profitable, well-thought-out decisions.

This is why we create patterns of the more mundane and simple things in our lives like brushing our teeth, getting out of bed, breakfast, driving, … You get the picture.

But it’s important to create good habits, since so much of our life happens unconsciously, whether we realize it or not. Don’t worry, even if you currently have some bad processes that you wish to alter, changing them is something doable and very well within everyone’s reach.

Examples of good daily routines

Picture of a man running on a road with the words written: “It's time to adopt these healthy habits for a healthy lifestyle.”

Commonly exhibited healthy daily routines examples could be establishing healthy eating habits for one. Preventing yourself from overeating, keeping the amount of calories you consume in check, eating clean foods while simultaneously avoiding too much processed food and sugar will aid you towards living a healthier life.

For the youngsters, establishing good study customs will help them to reach their goal of graduating and eventually getting their preferred degree. It will also help them to prevent their parents from going haywire when otherwise coming home with poor grades and getting berated for it.

A well established sleeping routine is also important for both young and old in order to look and feel well. Getting an adequate amount of sleep combined with good sleep hygiene is required. Waking up at the same time and going to bed at the same time consistently is a large part of founding a good sleeping pattern.

Applying healthy routines to fitness

Image of a man and a woman performing one-handed push-ups on the floor.

I do advocate people of all ages to find a physical hobby whether it’s weightlifting, yoga, boxing, swimming, or even gardening. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to keep the same motivation that got you started in the first place forever.

This is where good routines come into place in order to let you reach your fitness related goals. Maybe you like the working out part, but not the healthy eating, dieting, and meal prepping that goes along with getting in shape, and is every bit as important as working out. This means we’ll have to change our unhealthy patterns into a good daily procedure that works for us.

Because let’s face it, life happens. There will be times when your life gets rough. When you are tired from working long hours or personal issues. And that’s precisely when we need our discipline and habits to pull us through and keep us going.

Conclusion

It’s during hard times when our purposefully established habits really get to shine. That’s the true importance of our daily habits.

Consciously build up beneficial daily habits of going to the gym consistently, eating healthy and clean foods. Simultaneously, eliminate unhealthy patterns such as overeating, and not working out at all. After a while, you’ll be able to do so without even so much as a thought.

Do you want your habits to work for you, or against you in your life? The choice is up to you.