fog1-800pxWe can all agree that there is a glorification of BUSY going on and there is no shortage of suggestions on how to “Be more productive” or being asked to “Do more with less”.  One often overlooked way to help us save time in our day and generate more mental energy is to create habits.  Establishing effective habits in our daily routine helps us create ease and flow in our day.  When you have fewer decisions to make it frees up your mind for creative thinking and making purposeful choices.  A key to understanding this concept is to think about the inverse relationship between habits and willpower.

As many of us have experienced first- hand it’s hard to keep up willpower for any length of time. Yes, we can stick to a Juicing Plan or go hungry for a week or two on a low calorie diet, but eventually our willpower fades. And yes, we can do exercise we dislike for a while… until we run out of willpower.

But what about getting up to take the kids to school every morning, brushing our teeth or going to work every day. Those may not be our favorite things to do either, but we do them daily without the risk of running out of willpower. Why? because they have become habits. They are so ingrained in what we do and who we are that we do them without even considering skipping a day. We don’t have to make a conscious decision each day to shower or drive to work. It’s just what we do – a habit.

If you think about it, there is an inverse relationship between habits and will power. When you first want to build a new habit, it takes a lot of will power to get it done day in and day out. As you start to establish that habit, it becomes easier and easier to do until you don’t even have to think about it anymore.

Just being aware of this process helps us stick it out. We know we don’t always have to make such a big effort to go work out or skip the muffin for breakfast. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We know eventually it will become habit to go out for a run first thing in the morning and grab some fruit for breakfast.

Tips to Help Create a Habit

While transitioning from willpower to habit, we can use tools to make it easier. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a to-do list or set a text reminder to help stay on track.
  • Find an accountability partner so the two of you can motivate each other and help bolster that willpower when it starts to fade.
  • Pre-planning for your new habit. Laying out your running clothes the night before and keeping your shoes by the door makes it easier to go for that morning run.

Do what you can to help your willpower along until you have made the new behavior a true habit. After that it’ll be easy and automatic–By creating a new habit you have given yourself more time to think about the things that matter most which keep you living a purposeful life.

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”–Aristotle