Is life boring with habits

Why habits and routines are important to you

Habits are often associated with negative traits, such as smoking. A person who has routines is often seen as boring. Simply living into the day sounds a lot more casual. Or not? In this post, I'll tell you why routines and habits are underestimated and that we all have them.

What are habits and routines anyway?

I never liked the idea of ​​living a routine life before. I wanted to live like an artist. Get up when I want, do what I want and let my spontaneity guide me. By the way: I only realized much later that artists in particular don't live like that 😉 As an excuse I can say that I was young and naive 🙂

I know better today. The first routine or habit I made my own was exercising. That was very difficult for me at the beginning. It took a long time before it actually became a habitual behavior. If I had known about the mechanisms of habits and routines ten years ago, I would probably be a professional athlete today. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I didn't have to torment myself until exercise became a routine for me.

Routines and habits, to put it simply, are activities that we do repeatedly and regularly. Mostly very unconsciously.

Even if we don't believe it, most of our day consists of such processes. We think that we decide almost everything freely, but that has now been refuted by science. 45 percent of our daily activities are routine. So almost half of the day. Just think about brushing your teeth every day or going to the coffee machine in the morning. At the mailbox that you empty or the heater that you turn on.

But aren't routines and habits the same?

Not exactly. To answer, I simply take the Duden for advice:

Routines: the ability to carry out a certain activity very confidently, quickly and deliberately, acquired through extensive experience

Habits: action, attitude, peculiarity that has become a matter of course through frequent and constant repetition; something that is often only carried out mechanically or unconsciously

The differences can be seen. The effect that both routines and habits have, however, is that they are always activities that are carried out without much (or not at all) thinking about them.

Routines and habits can influence our everyday life for the better - like exercising every day - or for the worse - like smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.

But why are they so important to us?

Why habits matter

As I mentioned in the previous section, almost half of our day is made up of habits and routines. They affect us for half of our lifetimes. That should be enough to answer why they're important. But I would like to add a few more points.

Habits and routines enable us to function in the world. We have always had them and they cannot be eliminated. They are just as much a part of us as the constant stream of thoughts in our brain.

If there were no habits and routines, we would have to make thousands of decisions every day. Just imagine the strain on our brain! There would be no more time to focus on the important things.

Our brain constantly weighs up between decision quality and decision speed. Marginal decisions are at the expense of the decision quality for all other decisions. Any decision that can be eliminated releases cognitive resources. These can then be used to make decisions of greater importance.

Habits are a fantastic way to outsource some of the decision making to our surroundings.

And that is also the reason why it makes sense to develop habits further. The more we have of it, the more free capacity our brain has for creative processes.

How often have I been in the situation myself that I spent an hour thinking about whether or not I should exercise today. Or what I would like to eat tonight.

That still happens to me sometimes today. And afterwards I always say to myself: What a waste of time and how much effort I put into thinking about it.

In two or three years I was able to completely transform my body. That taught me something. When I was able to change my body that much, through discipline and determination, I could change anything I wanted. I was able to change my habits and my whole worldview. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Where is the spontaneity in that?

It can only increase with more habits! If you routinely work through the things that you want to (or have to) do, you have all the more time afterwards to do something spontaneously.

For me, I want to do as much as possible in the morning. For this reason, I am constantly working on expanding my morning routine. My goal is to be finished with everything by noon so that I can spend the rest of the day freely, spontaneously and creatively.

Or let's look at my example from above: By the time I was thinking about whether or not to exercise today, I could have been done long ago. And would have gained an hour for something else.

Habits make our life a lot easier! They ensure that we have more time for the things that are important to us.

Control habits

When we are able to control habits, we are able to gain control over ourselves.

“Self-control, that sounds so negative! Where's the fun in that? ”Perhaps one or the other thinks now.

But self-control has a number of advantages.

The last time I read the book “Before Thinking” by John Bargh, which I can highly recommend to you, by the way. It is about the unconscious in general. Habits and routines are unconscious actions. That is why we underestimate their effect. We are not aware of this enormous impact.

In fact, research shows that developing good habits that allow you to delegate control of your behavior to routine daily situations and events is the most effective long-term path to self-control - and thus to better grades, better jobs, and healthier diets and way of life. ”John Bargh - Before Thinking

So through habits we can gain self-control. With the help of positive habits, we don't have to constantly use our willpower to fight our desires.

“Many, if not most of us believe that it takes a lot of willpower and inner strength to suppress great temptations and strong impulses - that this is a permanent, tremendous struggle that can last all day or even life . However, new research shows that the exact opposite is true. Effective self-control is less likely to be tormented by temptation and less effort to suppress impulses than people with less self-control.

(...) People with good self-control manage their life in advance. By using unconscious means of self-regulation, they make the “necessary” evils such as healthy eating, exercise and study an everyday part of their lives; the positive activities become routine habits so that it no longer costs them much struggles to begin with or to overcome dislike for them. ”John Bargh - Before the thought

So self-control is nothing negative at all! When we are able to control ourselves, many things become easier for us.

Now I've talked at length about the positive effects of habits and routines, but the other side of the coin is still missing.

Why it is so hard to get rid of negative habits

I think each of us has wanted to break a bad habit at one point or another. However, many people fail because of it. Why is that?

Often, negative habits are not so easy to eliminate because we don't really want to get rid of them. We just haven't reached the point where we really want to change something.

Tony Robbins would say the pain isn't big enough just yet. And he's absolutely right about that! If you're new to Tony Robbins' books, here's a quick book review for you.

What Robbins means is this: Only when the aversion to the negative habit is great enough (the pain is great enough) are we ready to change something.

But that is not all. Unfortunately, the mental circuitry that underlies the negative habit is never completely eliminated. This means that once you quit smoking you will keep thinking about it for the rest of your life, and that often leads to relapse.

However, something can be done about this. One creates a positive substitute action for the negative habit. Again, that's a tip I learned from Tony Robbins' books.

An example to make it clear:

Let's say you eat a bar of chocolate every night while watching a movie. But now you don't feel like eating a bar of chocolate every evening because you want to lose weight. If you were to just watch the film and bite your chocolate, you will probably think about chocolate all the time. Suppressing your cravings for chocolate becomes a huge effort of will. Which then usually leads to you reaching for the chocolate again after a week. If you replace the chocolate with something else, like an apple, you will find it much easier to stop thinking about the chocolate. Eating apples is becoming your new habit. And nobody can have anything against apples 😉 You can enjoy the film as always and eat healthily. The latter leads to the fact that your goal of losing weight can be achieved.

New positive habits for a better life

Everyone wants to keep improving. This desire and will is deeply anchored in our DNA. However, this is not that easy because we humans are incredibly lazy at the same time. Doesn't go together at all, but unfortunately it does!

With the help of habits and routines, we can outsmart the sloth in us and thus work on our personal development.

For example, if you want to read more, you can get used to a reading routine. First, set yourself ten minutes a day to do this. Something that you want to get used to again should be as easy as possible. If you set yourself two hours a day from the start, you will probably never start.

Once the 10 minutes of reading have become a habit, it is easy to lengthen the time.

Well, could I convince you how important habits are to us? 🙂

In this post, I'll show you how you can get used to a morning routine in 6 steps. The principle can of course be applied to habits and routines in general.

In this post you can read what my personal morning routine looks like. You will also find lots of ideas for your (morning) routine.

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Hey, my name is Nadine!

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