Have you heard about the power of habits? Everyone is talking about them right now and everyone is praising them. They are believed to transform, improve and change lives in many miraculous ways.
But something is often missing in all those pieces of advice.
Let’s look at examples:
Zayts is lazy, he hates jogging. But he decides to develop a habit of jogging every evening. All the motivation industry is helping him to develop this habit, but he fails.
Zayts thinks that rich people are thieves. But he decides to start a business and get rich. All the consulting industry is helping him to achieve his dream, but he fails, because he does not want to be a thief.
It’s easy to tell why did he fail – he tried to do what he hates. You might say: but hey, we are supposed to do what we like, to find our passion and purpose! The problem is that everything we decide to do has some parts we like, and some we don’t like. For example, I like writing, but I hate promoting my articles (did you come here from a facebook group where I posted it?). Sometimes you can find a way around – like going weight lifting instead of jogging. But sometimes there are problems you must deal with them. If you want to be a professor in a university you must give lectures to audiences no matter how much you hate the public speaking. If you are a musician you must perform in front of a crowd no matter how much you hate crowds. And if you are a quiet freelance designer working from home – you must sell your service somehow.
What habit will help you?
“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” says Tony Robbins. This inaccurate quote is one of the reasons why I’m not among his fans. If you believe that you are failer, you will probably fail. If you believe that you are a loser, you will probably lose. It does not depend much on what you do.
What does it have to do with habits? Robert Kiyosaki – the writer with terribly poor writing skills reveals it:
“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”
In other words – what you think shapes how you succeed. So, if you try to develop a habit with a wrong mindset you will fail. If you adjust you mind correctly you can win.
Here we have the answer – not the habits of doing something have the most power, but the thinking habits. There are lots of articles about what positive or successful people do, but if you read them thoroughly the advice is not what they actually do, but more often how do they think. (example 1, example 2). They often “let go”, “take responsibility”, “search for solutions”, “live in the present”, “don’t compare to others” and so on. All those things are not to be done with your hands, they are to be done with the mind.
If not convinced, have a look at the final and most ultimate list of habits of highly successful people.
How to develop thinking habits?
To develop new thinking habits you need the same steps as for developing any kind of action habit:
- To have a plan – to know how do you want to think.
- To have a trigger – to know when are you going to think like that.
- To get a feedback – to see how well are you sticking to a new habit.
- To have a reward – to thank yourself for a well-done job.
Many writers believe, that you must tell about your habits to many people and make yourself accountable. I’ve seen so many failures of such “accountable” people, that I will feel doing wrong if I suggest it. Better look forward to telling them after you succeed: “Hey, I have a good thinking habit! I developed it by myself!”. I have some examples for you.
The first one is my example of developing a positive thinking habit. For more than 365 days in a row, I wrote the most positive thing of that day. Every. Single. Day. After that, I noticed that even when I had a hard time and felt depressed, the mind was working intelligently on its own and generating positive ideas and solutions. That was a discovery!
Here are the four steps used in my challenge:
- My plan was to write one most positive thing of that day.
- My trigger was my bed – most of the time I was writing there before going to sleep.
- My feedback was my diary – I would see if I skip a day.
- My reward was well delayed – after one year I reviewed the amazing time that I had and it was so cool to see my year so full of positive things.
Then next one is an example of the world’s most well-known habit blogger Leo Babauta. He was developing a habit of gratitude and he managed to shift his mind from negative thinking to the one of gratitude, which, eventually brought him happiness. He did not reveal the four steps of developing new habit, but it’s not hard to recreate them:
- The plan – to write a list of things that are good in your life.
- The trigger – to write right after waking up, or right after going to bed.
- The feedback – to put a tick in a calendar after you’ve done, then you can see if you are skipping or not.
- The reward – the exercise itself is rewarding, it gives you the sense of happiness. But you might add something more material.
Thinking habits are developed like any other habits. You just need to think in a specific pattern again and again, until your mind does that automatically.
If you want to transform your life into more positive one, and you want permanent results – thinking habits are the ones to start with. Because if you begin with actions without appropriate mindset, be prepared that results might disappoint you or fade away quickly. But if you start with thinking habits – be prepared that they will transform your action habits and those will transform your life. Even if you don’t want to. Proceed with caution!
The habit of solving problems
Thinking habit is not any particular habit. It is a class of habits including a habit of positive thinking, a habit of gratitude, a habit of letting go, a habit of searching for a solution and the list goes on. After seeing how well-paid consultants from one of the world’s top 4 consultancy companies PwC are thinking, I wanted to develop a habit of well-structured thinking too, to make my thinking not a total mess or random sparks, but a well-directed flow of ideas aimed at finding a solution.
That is why I created a thinking model – I put the best but simplest structured thinking techniques used in business like SWOT matrix or GTD natural planning model into a one thinking model and tried to apply it to any problem I found difficult to solve in trivial ways. After few years of applying this model, I feel that my mind still follows the same pattern even if I do not have my questionnaire with me. It is like installing a program into the mind.
If you want to try it too – you can get it here, I call an “Organized Mind”. Then try the same method as I did (if we are following the advice of Tony Robbins):
- The plan – use the guided thinking spreadsheet when you have a problem you cannot solve in trivial ways.
- The trigger – a subtle trigger of catching yourself in a desperate jumping from one random idea to another, this is time for some structured thinking session.
- The feedback – I would suggest recording your problems and your solutions to check how well (or bad) they are working.
- The reward – the session might take 10-20 minutes of your precious time. Give yourself a reward after this. I suggest something sweet and edible.
So, get your spreadsheet, and start transforming your mind! Nice to see you on the way.