“Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing”
– Vince Lombardi
The word “habit” gets tossed around a lot. Sometimes, you hear it used as a positive – like when your friend tells you they’re going to get in the “exercise habit” this year. Perhaps more often, it’s used in a negative sense such as “dirty habits” like smoking, poor diet, or lethargy. There’s reason to ponder here, however. We are nothing more than the sum of our habits. Give that just a second, if you will.
“We are nothing more than the sum of our habits.”
Maybe that’s intuitive and maybe it’s not. As long as we’re on the subject of common expressions, most people are familiar with the colloquialism “talk is cheap”. If we were all the sum of our words, we’d be great and powerful people indeed! Words without action, however, are meaningless. A teacher who cannot perform the task he asks of his students won’t gain their respect. Likewise, someone who is prone to promising the world but never delivers will fail to get the appreciation of his peers.
I try to limit these entries to one quote each, but there’s a quote attributed to Aristotle (this is the subject of some debate, but let’s leave it for our purposes), which says:
“[W]e are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”
I believe it is when we realize that our actions define who we are to the world that we begin to understand how to leave the legacy we would choose. With that said, habits come in every variety. All too often, the habits we create are detrimental to our success and even to our well-being.
When you have chosen a path for your life and committed to making your vision a reality, one of your next priorities must be to address your habits. In fact, the importance of bringing your behaviors in line with your goals cannot be overstated. As an example, if you mean to become a marathon runner, but you can’t be bothered to get off the couch… Well, of course, you’ll never make it very far.
No matter what you hope to pursue, it isn’t enough to want it or even to make a plan. At some time or another, you have to take action, and you need to make progress and achievement a habit. This isn’t to say that you’ll always find success – likely you’ll be met with failure as often or more – but you’ll never get anywhere unless you act.
There are many theories on habits and how they are formed and modified through time and effort. The most important thing, however, which is often overlooked, is that all habits are the result of our own behaviors. At the root of every habit you may have, is you. Likewise, no matter what science will ultimately prove we can blame our failings upon, the only one with the power to do anything is ourselves. So, start small but start. Make a positive change today that you can maintain at length. Small victories that last mean much more than monumental changes that fail.
Thank you for your time.