Creating Your Opportunities
William James once wrote, “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.”
In last month’s newsletter, we discussed habits. We talked about how resolution means “re-solving” and that if we developed a good habit in the first place, we wouldn’t have to make New Year’s Re-solutions. Instead, we would just have solutions! We would solve the problem ONCE by creating a good habit.
In 2006, a paper published by a Duke University researcher found that over 40% of the actions you perform each day aren’t actual decisions at all, they are habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, whether we drive cautiously or like a maniac, the way you work, and the way we organize our thoughts – these routines that we form have enormous impacts on our productivity, wealth, health, and happiness.
The Habit Loop
Neuroscientists describe what they call the Habit Loop. The brain is constantly trying to save energy and make every repetitive thing we do a habit. We discussed this 3 step loop last month. It is very powerful IF you use it to your advantage. Did you put the 3 R’s of creating a new habit to work in your life?
I heard from many folks who read that article. They described what they were going to use as the Reminder or cue, how they were going to create a Routine and how they were going to be Rewarded. Did you give it a try? Did it work for you? I would be very surprised if you answered “Yes!” to that question. Why? Because the process was about trying to do something new. If you weren’t trying something new, you were probably trying to do something that you’ve already tried and you may have stumbled as you have in the past. If you did try something completely new, well then you also probably stumbled.
Now here’s an odd question for you (but you’ll see why I ask it in a minute). Do you see many human beings crawling down the sidewalk or crawling through the store or crawling around work? (Ok, I’m intentionally leaving bars out of this question.) No, of course not. People don’t typically crawl. Why? Did they wake up one day when they were 1 or 2 years old and just start walking? No, they stood up and then fell down on their bum. They used a table to brace themselves and then took one step away and fell on their face. But those babies kept getting up. They kept believing that if people around them were walking, they could eventually walk too. And they did. It just didn’t happen the first time they got up and tried.
Three more R’s
So, you really need 3 MORE R’s in order to create a new habit. After you stumble and fall, whether on your face or on your bum, you need to:
- Recommit: Focus on the intention or goal of your “experiment.” Gather more data on what works and what doesn’t work before creating your next habit cycle. While you can get around fairly well by crawling, walking offers you many more opportunities as it frees up your hands.
- Rethink: What is one thing that you can change about your last attempt? As with any experiment, don’t change many variables; just change one. This will give you more valuable information and feedback when you stumble and fall again.
- Was your mistake in your Reminder? Did you choose something that didn’t happen regularly?
- Could you tweak your routine? The mistake that many make is around the routine. They went for the whole enchilada. They were going to go, for instance, from sitting on the couch to working out 4 days/week for 30 minutes. Your new routine must be a “no-brainer”. It must be so easy to start that it would make sense not to start it. Remember in the beginning your mastery and your performance don’t matter. You can and will build your mastery once the behavior becomes your new habit.
- Can you restate or refocus on a different reward? Sometimes the things that are easy to do are also easy NOT to do. Your reward must be more valuable than staying where you are.
- Restart: Once you’ve decided to recommit and rethink the one thing you’ll try differently, it’s time to restart the cycle.
Please know that you will fall out of the Habit Loop. When you do, be sure to fall down into the 3 R’s of getting back up into the Habit Loop.
Why is this so important? Because as Og Mandino says, “In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.”
In our society, many folks are always out there looking for the next opportunity. They search high and low, far and wide. Looking and searching, seeking and clamoring. Trying to find that ONE THING that will propel them to their next success. So much time and energy spent on trying to find their next opportunity. It can be so frustrating and discouraging when that next opportunity doesn’t appear. Have you ever been there? You want more but don’t know how to get it. It can seem as though life has dealt you a bad hand… maybe it even feels like you’re a victim.
Well, sorry to say, you are a victim. A victim of your own habits. You see, your brain WILL form habits. The cue (reminder) and reward WILL become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. Eventually, a habit WILL be born. The question that you have complete control over answering is “What will that habit produce?” Charles Duhigg, in his book, “The Power of Habit” writes:
“Habits aren’t destiny. Habits can be ignored, changed, or replaced. But the reason the discovery of the habit loop is so important is that it reveals a basic truth: When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, and diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit –– unless you find new routines –– the pattern will unfold automatically.”
So opportunities and habits are the key. And, what is the key to opportunities and habits?
“Opportunity is created in the moment of decision.”
Read that again. Opportunity is created in the moment of decision. All you have to do to start a habit is to decide. All that you have to do to break a habit is decide. That decision is the beginning of OPPORTUNITY for you, your family and those around you. The key is making a good decision! You no longer have to spend time searching high and low for your opportunities. You CREATE them by making good decisions!!
So, how do you make a good decision? Neuro-axiology teaches us that:
- You would first shift your mind to a broad thinking perspective (what we call a VQ-100) by asking yourself your Centering Questions. (These questions come in your VQ Profile reports when you have a VQ-100.)
- Then, you look at how you can create the greatest net value with your decision.
- Finally, you would take action based on your broadest and best value perspectives.
You are the vehicle that will get you to your health, wealth and happiness. You ARE the opportunity. Just as with your car, you must shift into gear, steer in the direction of greatest value, and press the accelerator.
Your opportunity will be created in the moment of your decision.
- Will your opportunity lead you to your dreams and goals?
- Will you follow the process to create habits that lead to greater success?
- Or, will you allow the habits of the past to continue to keep you where you are?
If you believe that you can change and if you make it a habit, the change becomes real. The real power of habit is the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be. You have the power to change them and bring more of your brilliance to this world. Make a decision today to take action from your greatest strengths that may feel a little uncomfortable at first but will lead you to a new value-adding habit and a new value-filled future.