Habits vs. Willpower

Auto-pilot is something you, like most of us, are probably good at. Like, really good at. You usually eat these kinds of foods, get about that much sleep, have those kinds of conversations with the family and friends that have surrounded you for a while. You don't have to think about where you're going when you get in the car in the morning, you probably don't pay much attention to your regular tasks in the business of your household, and you may not consider how you're feeling from day to day.


These things that you usually do and don't have to think too much about, these habits of your life, *can* work against you. If you've gotten used to being exhausted or having entire conversations while simultaneously checking your email or putting off something you strongly suspect will help improve your quality of life (like a daily walk or getting rid of sugar), then I'd like to warmly suggest to you that your modus operandi when you're on auto-pilot may not be creating the life that you want to live.


Your habits and everyday patterns can also work for you and serve you, though. When it becomes a habit to buy mostly produce instead of processed foods; or when it's normal to live by a schedule that accommodates 8 hours of sleep; or when you realize that your body is craving daily exercise, then you're not using willpower to get through the day in a more conscious and aware way - you're relying on your habitually healthy and nourishing routine.


Willpower, which is defined as "strong determination that allows you to do something difficult", just doesn't sound like any fun to me, nor something that seems overly reliable. And where truly life-changing behaviors and improvements are concerned, I'm all for having an element of simplicity in the mix.


So, of course, the key is to figure out how to cultivate habits that serve you, crowding out bad habits that take away from and deplete you, and eliminating the notion of willpower altogether. Per the usual with me, the first step is becoming aware of the habits that you currently hold. Take one aspect of your life and figure out the habits that you've got going there. What's your usual? What do you do automatically? Is the usual and automatic working for or against you? Why? What do you want this aspect of your life to look and feel like?


Bringing as much conscious awareness to a habit that needs updating or a complete overhaul is a more dramatic phase that you might anticipate. It may sound obvious or trivial, but every single time awareness is the trigger for everything that comes after it.


Once you've seen something that you want, or feel you need, to change, you can't unsee it. Awareness will realign your internal compass and set you on a path to better-feeling habits. No willpower necessary.