By Mark Lister

Do you ever notice this happening with you?

1. You’re doing some task, one you’ve done plenty of times before. Someone says something like “Why don’t you do it this way?” or “Why don’t you do that?”
2. You find yourself thinking, “That’s clearly a good idea – why on earth DON’T I do it that way?”
3. So you do it differently this time.
4. BUT the next time you come to doing the same task, you do it just as you’ve always done.

It just happened to me (not for the first time, of course.) I was brushing my teeth, and my wife said “Why don’t you brush your tongue?” With great relish she pointed out that it gets exposed to all the crap my teeth get etc (I’ll spare you the detail). Why not clean it at the same time?

Of course, she had a very good point. The interesting thing is, why didn’t I? It’s not because I hadn’t known the information she gave me. Or that I didn’t agree it was a good idea. So what was stopping me?

It’s a simple question of habit.

An awful lot of what we do is done unconsciously, even if we’re aware of doing it. So while I consciously decide to brush my teeth, and am aware of doing it, the actual brushing is automatic. There are probably improvements I’d make straight away if I did it in a fully conscious way. But it works fine as it is, and hey, who’s got the time?

It’s similar in business. Habit keeps us doing things that we know we’d benefit from changing. It keeps us seeing things in the same ways. These things get embedded, and can seem hard to change. They can even seem like they’re inevitable, immutable truths. But in fact, they’re just repetitions.

Creating new futures is literally a question of changing habits. Find a habit that doesn’t work for you and drop it. Maybe create a new one that does work for you.

Obviously that’s easier said than done. But just knowing you’re dealing with a habit rather than a struck-in-stone truth helps you start the process. You’re not fighting the world, you’re just dealing with your own repetitive ways of doing or seeing things.

Mark Lister

www.listermcdonald.com

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