The Most Important Habit You Can Ever Learn
What if I told you that if you could master just one habit, that all the others would fall into place?
How much further do you think you could get with your Music?
How about the rest of your life?
Well there is one habit that is truly a magic bullet for all other habits. I don’t say this lightly, because I don’t believe in magic bullets in 99.9% of cases.
Then again, most people think a magic bullet has to be easy. A 1 click solution.
Well this habit is certainly simple, but it’s not easy. It will take work. But I promise you that if you can commit to 30 days of this habit, it will come naturally to you instead of being a struggle.
This “habit” is less of a habit and more of a habitual way of reacting. Let me explain.
If someone were to yell at you, hit you or cut you off on the freeway, you have a natural way of reacting. It’s not really even something you think about. Your reaction has become a normal part of your personality. People can generally expect a certain response from you. Does this mean you are stuck in your ways? Most likely, yes… unless you make a conscious effort to change.
What you might not realize, is that there is a moment between an action & your reaction (Don’t worry, all of this is leading somewhere, I promise). If you can consciously pause before reacting to something, you have a small window of time in which to change your reaction. This is huge for you. This means you can take control of these reactionary habits.
Why changing a habit is so hard
We are creatures of habit. 80%(probably more) of what we do everyday are habits that have been ingrained in us. We do them without even thinking. This is a good thing. This means that our brains can put it’s energy into new incoming data instead of having to put effort into everything minute thing we do.
The downside to this, is that it’s tough to change these automatic habits. Even when we do try to change, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves going back to the old habit without even realizing it. But how did these habits form in the first place?
Every time we do a new task, we are building nero-pathways in the brain. The more we repeat the habit, the stronger the pathway. The stronger the pathways, the more automatic the habit.
From the same line of thinking, we can also conclude that as we stop doing a habit regularly, strong pathways become weaker & eventually die off.
So why is changing a habit so hard? Because you are not only creating a new pathway that is weak, but the habit you are changing is really strong. Understanding this makes all the difference in the world.
One habit to rule them all
As promised, I’m going to bring this all together for you now & give you the one habit that can improve your creative habits as well as every area of your life.
Stop worrying about the actual habits you are trying to adapt, because the habit itself is not the problem.
The real problem is and always has been your reaction to your new habits!
This is an extremely powerful thing to know. This means that if you change your reaction to new habits, all new habits become easier.
The “I don’t feel like it” habit
Throughout your life, your brain’s job is to keep you within your own version of the status quo. Once again, the reason for this is that your brain tries to reserve thinking energy as much a possible and prefers to run on autopilot. For that very reason, your brain will throw at you the “I don’t feel like it” reaction to anything that requires thinking energy.
Kind of ironic that the brain doesn’t particularly like to think huh?
So there you are, laying in bed & you realize you forgot to brush your teeth. You’re warm, tired & you know just one day is not gonna kill you.
You are sitting at the computer knowing you should be working on your music but habitually when you feel like you should make music, your reaction is to check your email & post on Twitter & Facebook.
You look at your gut knowing that you should stop eating shitty food & get an exercise routine, but your usual reaction is cozying up to the couch & watching some mindless reality tv show while devouring a whole box of Hot Pockets.
This is the “I don’t feel like it” habit, and you’re letting it control your life. Want to do something about it yet?
A new reaction
You can’t blame your brain for this. It’s only following orders. However you react to thoughts, feelings & situations the most, become the brains go to response. You need to consciously build a new reaction to these thoughts.
Here are some techniques I use to generate a new reaction:
1. Search out the I don’t feel like it virus by asking “What am I avoiding right now?”. Every time you ask yourself this question, you’ll certainly discover something you’ve been putting off. Whether it’s doing dishes, making a call or finishing your new song, you’ll be pointed directly to an immediate action step.
What makes doing the right thing difficult is that because it’s not an ingrained habit, it’s simply not going to feel right. Sometimes it’s going to feel all sorts of wrong. This is normal. Do it anyway. After a week, or sometimes less, it won’t feel wrong anymore. After a month, it’ll feel wrong to not take action.
2. Understand that I don’t feel like it is only a thought you give meaning to. Most people let it mean they should not do something they know they should. What I do when I get that thought (which is usually when I’m warm in bed) is interpret the thought as a huge call to action & immediately jump out of bed & do what I don’t feel like doing. I look at it as a message from my old self calling for my new self to come to the rescue. It’s the old me desiring to become a better me.
3. I’ll sometimes say to myself, “let’s get uncomfortable!” & not let it make me flinch. I laugh to myself at how I used to react to these feelings & what a wimp I was.
4. I’ll journal for 2 full pages to see if I can uncover beliefs that are holding me back.
5. I’ll make a daily To DO list breaking down intimidating projects or goals into bite sized tasks (30 minutes to an hour). If I can do even 1 thing on the list each day, it’s amazing how much I can accomplish without stress.
You’ll never build these new pathways in your brain if you aren’t practicing a new task every day. It doesn’t have to be a long time spent but rather getting started on something every day, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes. Commit to 30 days of becoming aware of your “I don’t feel like it” response & you’ll change your life massively.
I don’t feel like making my bed or showering right now. Guess what I’m gonna do once I post this?
To your productivity,
Hey Jason, If you would, do you think you could put a print button on these articles so we could print them out without getting all the advertisements and other stuff in the print-out? I would appreciate it. Thanks so much for all you do for us Ableton users.
I’ll look for a plugin that might do that. You can also add my blog to your Google reader or rss feed reader. Super clean. I read a lot of blogs that way.