Want to know my greatest weakness? Yes, even I myself am not perfect.
Even though I am a creature of familiarity and routine, forming new habits is one of the most challenging things I face. And as both an entrepreneur and someone working hard to improve my life and the lives around me, having good habits is much more than a necessity. It’s a requirement.
Now don’t think just by reading that I don’t have any good habits. In fact, I’ve worked hard to implement the ones I do have into my daily life. Some of these include getting up (not waking up, actually getting out of bed) at 5AM every morning, going to the gym at least 3 times a week, and making it a point to read scripture at least once a day.
But on the reverse side, I have habits that continually bring me down, or don’t benefit me at all. Some examples are mindlessly scrolling through TikTok videos, reading Reddit posts instead of books, and even as far as taking entire days off just because I missed starting work at a set time. The old “I said I’d start at 8:00 but it’s 8:03, I’ll try again tomorrow” trick.
You may be a slave to bad habits and not even know it. Our subconscious can easily become addicted to certain habits, and before you’re aware of it, you’re entirely dependent on it. It could be something as simple as spending too much time on Facebook, or something more serious as drug abuse.
One glaring example is how much time we spend on our smartphones. I challenge anyone reading this, if they haven’t already, to turn on their Screen Time service on their phone. This setting tracks how much time you spend daily and weekly on your device. After a week, the results might shock you.
The point is, we all have bad habits that we need to kick. In order to truly fulfil our purpose, we must realize we are in control of our own lives, and are not a slave to our addictions. That being said, how can someone adapt this mindset, and start to give up these habits to form new, beneficial habits?
A few months ago, I read through The 80/20 Principle. It’s a fantastic concept that covers different theories, mainly that 80% of results come from 20% of work. But one concept stuck out to me in the earlier chapters, known as The Invisible Line.
The Invisible Line is described as being the threshold for when something actually becomes a habit. Before you cross the line, it’s simply an indulgence. But after repeating the action over and over again, you cross this “invisible line”, where the action becomes habit, and your subconscious allows you to perform the task much easier than you would have the first time you did it.
Think of riding a bike. The first time you hopped on, chances are you may have made it a few feet, then crashed into the grass (or if you’re like me, asphalt). But over the course of the next few months, you rode the bike more and more, to the point you could hop on, and ride across the neighborhood, without a second thought.
Another example that I mentioned earlier was getting out of bed at 5AM every morning. This definitely was not an easy habit to form, considering I could easily sleep 10 hours a day if allowed. The first morning my alarm went off, I felt like death. I hit the snooze button multiple times. This continued on into the second morning, second week, etc.
But eventually, my body started to learn this routine. I found myself getting up earlier and earlier, hitting snooze one less time. Eventually, the habit was formed. So every morning, as my alarm is going off, I’m up already doing a set of pushups.
There’s a habit that you reading this right now want to form; or better yet, NEED to form. Maybe it’s continually going to the gym after work. Maybe it’s not spending so much time watching videos online. Maybe it’s eating healthier. Point is, you have something that you want to work on, but are putting it off for whatever reason.
And that’s perfectly okay. The way I envision The Invisible Line, is being on a 100 meter track, with massive weights strapped to me. Even taking one step forward seems impossible. But you take that first step, and you feel the weight ever so slightly lighten. Another step, lighter. Another step, lighter. Soon you’re actively walking, and you can feel the weight lifting off of you. Then you finally cross the line, and it’s as simple as walking normally.
Funny enough, we often miss crossing the line. I can remember when I first started going to the gym, I felt like I had to drag myself to go. Now sometimes I’ll be halfway through a workout before I really consciously realize where I am. We ingrain ourselves in this routine so much, it becomes second nature to us.
The key here, is taking that first step. It’s brutal, I know. That first bite of broccoli after eating nothing but fast food for months. That first mile run after sitting on the couch for 6 months. That first day of leaving your device at home. You’re going to want to quit, scream, punch something, etc.
But it gets easier.
As stated earlier, our subconscious mind is here to keep us on a form of autopilot. We can’t be aware of everything going on at all times, or our brains would be over loaded. So we rely on our subconscious to take care of the mundane tasks (brushing our teeth, remembering how to use a fork, etc.) while we focus on the important things (tasks to complete during that specific day, etc.)
So the first time you do something out of your ordinary habit, your brain will throw dozens of red flags at you. But the more you continue to push through, and become comfortable with your new habit, your mind will adapt. Soon you’ll be able to do the task without any hesitation.
I’m not perfect. I’ve got a lot of bad habits that I need to stop. But instead of giving up on the first attempt, I push through. And eventually, I always come out on the other side with a rewired brain, and new habit.
Whatever you’re putting off, take that first step.