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Developing Habits

A lot our daily actions are on an autopilot mode. It is also an undeniable fact that habits shape us. The more we perform an action or behave a specific way, the more it gets physically wired in the brain hence breaking an old habit or forming a new Habit is ultimately about rewiring our brains.

Habits are the brains' internal drivers and are found, in "Basal Ganglia”, based on what we do repeatedly either good or bad, brain form a neuronal connection. The more specific act we perform a distinct neuronal pattern gets stimulated and gets strengthened in the brain.

Jim Rohn quotes, “Motivation is what gets you started, habits are what keep you going". To begin with, it requires a 'strong will,' we need to interrupt these hardwired chains for adopting behaviours and register in our prefrontal cortex which also is known as 'the thinking brain, consciously'. The new routines got to perform enough times for brand-fresh connections to, be made strengthening the signal to the brain making, it as a default pattern, reducing the difficulty as days goes by.

Dr BJ Fogg in, his practical theory class ‘Tiny Habits’ quotes “to make a habit, you would like to form it sufficiently small for it to be unfailing consistent for the very beginning'. If you would wish to write, start with one paragraph. If you want to start walking, begin with a three-minute walk, or practice one measure of music for 5-10 minutes.

The goal here is not the quantity or volume. Once you get into the groove, it becomes automatic, so start by setting yourself up to succeed by giving yourself goals that are easy to meet.

Let me quote an example of how I, formed a habit and have been implementing it daily for the last five years. As a family, we did not have the habit of brushing our teeth twice in a day as prescribed by the medical fraternity. It was difficult for me to bring it in my mind and implement.

Once on annual vacation in the year 2015, I casually discussed brushing twice daily. It was simple, each night post our dinner we will start brushing and then only head to sleep.

Night-time brushing was always a big NO for us because we always felt that was the most difficult, thing to do at that time. I, myself resented the idea and was cursing self for approaching the topic, especially when we are on, a vacation to relax and enjoy., but we all unanimously decided to implement but with a little caveat.

We had two choices, use the carrot and stick policy i.e. either reward or punish for our act. After a lot of deliberations, we decided to levy a small fine of Rs. 10/- if someone forgets and the money will be given, to each of the family members. For a few individual Rs.10/- might appear small, but for my kids, it was big, because it amounted to the parting of Rs. 10/- to each member.

Both the kids even visited the extent of calculating if they do not brush for 30, days the loss for them will be as high as Rs. 900/- per month, and with less cash in their piggy bank they were not ready to forfeit the same.

Initially, I faltered and had to give money to all but the biggest plus for us was not even a single day the kids defaulted.

What once deemed to be a difficult habit was broken. It is a little over 5, years now, we cannot sleep without brushing as it gives a guilt feeling. We have all gone to sleep at odd hours but not before brushing as it has now become our ritual.

Becoming 1% better each day is simple and, practical way to achieve big goals. We used this same practice to cultivate another habit i.e. for saving money for our yearly trip beforehand. We started depositing a fixed amount every month until the month of the travel and to our relief and benefit we, have managed to save average 60% of our trip cost in advance, and it does not hit us hard when we plan our annual trip.

Both times we learned result often do not come as quickly as we had hoped, we could have easily lost the plot, lost the motivation and would have given up, but for our persistence and perseverance, we succeeded.

It was possible because we had a clear goal, held each other accountable and the willingness of all concerned to lend a helping hand and see that nobody falters.

Breaking a bad habit or developing an honest one might be diligence, but it is not impossible.

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