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The False Promise of Habits

Recently I read an article in Entrepreneur magazine titled, “5 Steps for Achieving Your Goals Through Healthy Habits.” The word habit is attractive to all of us because it appeals to the idea that good activity that leads to positive growth can become automatic. The problem is good behavior that leads to growth will never be automatic.

The quote that popped off the page was this false promise, “…with enough practice, the habit becomes more automatic than conscious and can be achieved without thinking. Thus, a new habit has been formed.” This is simply not true. Behavior that leads to good growth is not an automatic affair it will always require conscious thought and deliberate action.

The success rate of establishing any habit that leads to compound growth is low because the word itself is a false promise – do something good, enough times, and it will become automatic. It won’t. Or set up a cue, craving, response and reward and voilà you are on your way to automatic growth, which, if you believe, will leave you frustrated, depressed, and despondent thinking you have a problem, which you don’t! The problem is an incorrect understanding and application of habit.

The studies that habit authors have quoted and the science backing their claims is alluring, like a magic pill if swallowed will give you good growth and great returns. However, the studies all reference basic motor controls becoming automatic like walking, eating, breathing, etc. and I agree, these functions do become automatic and should. Imagine how frustrating it would be if you had to have breathing be a conscious choice or think about every step you take or having to deliberately tell yourself to chew and swallow your food.

So why do you hire a habit? To change or modify your motor functions. Let’s say you want to stop chewing your nails, then follow the habit formula and eventually you will break the habit. Or if you want to type with eight fingers and a thumb rather than two index fingers you hire a habit. If you consciously consecutively type with eight fingers and a thumb eventually it will become automatic. Outside of motor functions hiring a habit to become who you want to be is highly ineffective and largely frustrating because for growth a progress habits simply do not work.

To grow and progress you need to know right up front it will not ever become automatic. You will choose every day whether or not you want to become who you want to be through what you do deliberately and consecutively. But this does not need to be a hard, difficult, dangerous endeavor. In fact, the activity you choose to be conscious and consecutive is laughably simple. The work is to do that laughably simple activity every day, record that you did it, and share it. This is Streaking! You hire a streak to become who you want to be such as a writer, a continuous learner, a professional in any discipline. Streaking is the formula to achieve compound growth personally, professionally, physically, and spiritually. The laws of streaking set you up to succeed at who you choose to be.

Law #1: Make it Laughably Simple

Law #2: No Record, No Streak

Law #3: Create a Community

When habits let me down, I picked up streaking and it has made all the difference. You know Aristotle’s famous quote that starts, “We are what we repeatedly do…?” I agree with Aristotle with the exception of the final word which when changed the quote reads, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a streak.”

Keep Streakin’,

Jeff

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