If you’d asked me several years ago about habits and routines, I would’ve told you that they were not my thing. I preferred freedom, the ability to spontaneously decide what I wanted to do. Have an agenda full of pre-scheduled tasks? No thanks! I wanted to decide at every moment what I felt like doing or what I thought was the most important or urgent task to do.
But then I started reading about habits. Some people were very excited about them, so I decided to give them a try. I read a little bit about them: how to start new habits, stop the ones you don’t want, and change some you’ve already established (even if you weren’t previously aware of them).
And I have to admit that I was wrong.
Habits are VERY useful.
I want to mention two of the main advantages that habits have so far provided.
The first advantage is that a habit doesn’t depend on your mood, which is great when you want to accomplish something long term.
Think about this: if you want to become a sports player, an artist, a scientist, or anything else, or if you want to buy a house, start a business, improve your relationship with someone, or have a healthier lifestyle, habits are what will gently pull you to your destination. Establishing the right habits will, little by little, every day, push you in the direction you want.
During your day-to-day, your moods will drag you in different directions and not necessarily the ones that are most important for your long-term goals. They will distract you and suggest that it’s better to do something else at any given moment or that you can do it later or some other day. It’ll be weeks or months later that you realize just how far you are from your original track.
On the other hand, if you stuck to your habits, you will be on track. All the time.
Some days will be more productive than others, but the fact remains: you always be on track. Habits are the only way to get where you want to go.
The second advantage I’ve experienced is the amount of energy I save not having to decide what I should do every day. There’s no way to measure just how much energy you spend making decisions every day (search Google for “decision fatigue” or “ego depletion” if you want to know more). Having routines or habits will save you tons of energy, energy that you can use on something more productive.
And you know what else? Now that I’ve experienced the energy savings of including routines and habits in my life, I don’t miss the freedom to choose spontaneously. Quite the opposite, in fact: I feel relieved that I don’t have to do it anymore.
In sum, habits keep you on track and save you energy.
Of course, though I have habits established in my life, it doesn’t mean that I have everything in my life organized by routines and habits. But having a few for the things I consider most important (health, family, and job in my case) have helped me a lot.
Are you starting to consider how you might begin some habits and routines? One book I highly recommend is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Maybe one day I’ll write a post about the highlights and some of my most important takeaways from that book, but in the meantime, feel free to contact me if you’re looking for more specific guidance on how to develop habits that work for your circumstances.