Habits are the actions, behaviors and attitudes we choose on a daily basis that lead us to where we want to go in life. As such, habits are to be respected and used wisely.
Habits are a useful and valuable tool when consciously chosen as they provide us the ability to follow a process with little or no effort. We can mindlessly go about tasks and duties without exerting too much mental or emotional energy.
Intention on the other hand is the initiator that drives and motivates our thoughts, behaviors and actions that turn into habit. It takes a mindful approach to living in this manner until it becomes habitual.
Both habit and intention create our future reality. We can do things that serve us in moving towards our goals or do things that move us away from our goals. Our goals and aspirations are reached within both realms of blind thinking, or habit, and the mindful thinking of intention.
There are 3 platforms on which habits are formed. They are:
ATTITUDE: Habitual patterns of how we approach people, situations and circumstances
BEHAVIOR: Habitual feelings that direct the ways we act or react towards people, situations and circumstances
ACTION: Habitual effort that dictates where and how we invest, manage and apply our physical energy
Intention that is practiced into a habit develops the actions, attitude and behaviors to support growth and development.
MY LIFE LESSON STORY: When I entered the world of competitive athletics I had a habit of questioning any process I was asked to be part of and continually scrutinized the intention of my coaches. I became insistent on looking for areas that didn’t validate my inadequacies or that challenged the areas I needed to improve. I spent an enormous amount of energy defending my position. I had a million reasons or excuses as to why I couldn’t do what was being asked of me. These “failing in advance” habits were honed and nurtured and available at any given moment. It was my response to any constructive feedback from my coaches. I spent my time and energy finding ways around what was being asked of me rather than just finding out how I could do what was being asked.
Habit had always led me to think and behave in a pattern of automated responses that I was unaware of. It was only when challenged in high level sport that I allowed myself the careful examination of who I was and who I needed to be to reach my goals. I soon realized that my need to question was a deeply ingrained habit from the past that was keeping me from making the changes I needed to advance.
I concluded that the only way to break this pattern was to risk being a failure. And to also risk success.
I began to think with intention and starting behaving and acting in ways that aligned to my goals. I made these my new habits. I stopped questioning and just showed up, did what was asked and when I couldn’t do what was asked I found a way to do it. I became willing to do whatever it took to make the changes that were being asked of me, willing to become aware that maybe I wasn’t able to do them and also willing to succeed. Ouch.
The energy I had spent defending myself was replaced with effort, enthusiasm and intrigue. At that time I didn’t fully understand the actual power that comes from staying focused on the intention. Nor did I realize how these habits could create a forward momentum that equates excelling.
This lesson has served me well and I continue to use this method of self evaluation in most areas of my life where I feel stuck. I now question myself, my own habits and see if they align to what serves me or if they serve to validate where I am.
As I conclude this blog I challenge the paddlers reading this who are working towards their goals and are interested in developing new habits of thinking, being and doing to ask themselves the following questions:
- Do my current habits match my goals? Am I acting, thinking and behaving like the athlete of my goals or am I defending and validating who I am?
- Where is my intention going? To who and what do I give my energy? What is priority in my life goals and my daily action?
- Where am I engaging in activity, tasks and duties that validate who I am rather than who I want to become?
Bottom line, you have to be willing to dive into a healthy dose of self analysis and be honest. You also have to be willing to try new methods of thought, action and behavior that will support you on your journey to becoming who you want to be and reach the goals that matter, to you!