Taking Charge Of Our Habit Landscape

One of the intelligent ways to make sense of habit management is to map out the habits that shape the landscape of our work and life. Habits are things we do automatically.

Habits live along a continuum between strong and emerging. Strong habits are habits we do well and consistently. The more we practice a habit, the more automatic it is, the less we need motivation or will power for them. We just do them without first having to decide to. Emerging habits are those we're just developing through practice. They are not yet done well and/or consistently. 


Habits also live along a continuum between useful and not-useful. Useful habits are habits aligned with our passions. They make our lives and work easier, more enjoyable and successful. Not-useful habits are not aligned with our passions. If we have a passion for well-being, habits of bad nutrition and excessive sitting are not useful habits.

There are specific strategies for each matrix quadrant. 


We can learn how to develop more mastery of these habits by learning from people who are better at them than we. We can become more mindful in how we do them. We can become more aware of how they align with our passions. 


We can make these more automatic by pairing them with existing strong habits, whether they're more or less useful. Pairing happens when we do an emerging habit just before or after a strong habit. We can become more aware of how they align with our passions. We can learn how to do them more skillfully.


We can weaken these even further by making them less convenient to do. If we have an emerging habit of eating certain foods that are not aligned with our passion for good nutrition, we can make sure we don't bring them into our house in the first place. If we want to be less tempted to text and drive, we leave our phones in the trunk while driving.


We reduce and remove non-useful-strong habits by building and scheduling useful habits to replace them. Instead of spending too much time on social media, we create a new habit of taking a walk or doing some yoga the instant we feel sucked into checking on the latest. 

We can intentionally shape our habit landscape. Our brains have no intrinsic interest in or attachment to any habits. We can grow and replace any habits we want. The only requirement is that they have to be things we are physically able to do. Other than that, the sky's the limit.