This week’s post comes from returning guest blogger, Todd Shirley. Todd is a talented writer with a wealth of knowledge to share. I hope you are inspired to leave a comment or engage in conversation after reading this post. To learn more about Todd, please visit his biography at the end and check out his blog here.
The Power of Habit–And Making Your Bed
I have a habit of talking to myself. It has lead to some embarrassing situations. One time at a job I worked in high school, co workers, customers, and my bosses stopped business briefly to share a communal laugh at this habit. As I cleaned the large windows of the shop, the sun was at my back and reflected onto my eyes. I couldn’t see into the store while everyone could clearly see me wiping the windows and pantomiming an argument I was having inside my head.
As an adult, nothing gets me talking to myself more than when I read a good non-fiction book. In a weird way, I live the facts that I pick up from it. The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg is such a book to trigger this habit several times over. I highly recommend it.
The following three points from the book are my favorite. I have also shared how they relate to me.
1: Habits are inevitable because our brains RELY on habits:
Nothing makes the brain take up more energy than novel experiences. To move an experience into the realm of a habit offers the brain a tremendous cost savings for its resources.
Consider this point in terms of dialing a new ten digit phone number. I estimate there are over thirty steps involved. Each number has to be recognized, located on the dial pad, and double-checked for accuracy. To dial a familiar number, your brain doesn’t approach it in several steps; it approaches it as one movement of your finger.
In my day to day work I encounter middle schoolers from foreign countries. I’ve heard time and again that their day is eight times more tiring than students who are familiar with the school district, speak English and understand our customs.
2: We operate under the influence of keystone habits:
Keystone habits are habits that dictate other habits.
I struggle all the time to eat breakfast before work. While reading the book, I decided to begin focusing on making my bed before work instead of preparing breakfast. In doing so, I found out I had more time before work than I realized. This led to frying up some eggs and eating them. After about the fifth time doing this, I thought I was on to something. Regularly now I eat breakfast about four times a week but no longer make my bed.
3: Habits don’t go extinct, they get written over:
I haven’t touched a mountain bike in years but feel pretty confident I could hop on one and make my way down the street. The habits necessary to ride my bike are still there but were written over by habits relevant to driving my car.
The book, The Power of Habit, has many implications for an individual’s life as well as how organizations work. I found it rewarding and encouraging as it seems to lift the veil of mystery that often covers up human behavior. I hope I’ve piqued your interest by writing about my personal experiences as they relate to this book.
Anyone care to venture a guess about what I do now instead of talking to myself? Leave a comment with your best idea and I’ll reveal the answer…
Todd Shirley works full time as a school counselor and carries a caseload of clients who are in the foster care system. When he is not working, he is reading, working out, cooking Paleo and discussing all that is arbitrary about life. Oh-and his favorite animal is the manatee. Todd is an incredible guest blogger with a wealth of knowledge to share. I hope you are inspired to leave a comment, engage in conversation or visit his blog having now read this post. You are always welcome to share your thoughts below!
6 thoughts on “The Power of Habit–And Making Your Bed (Guest Blog by Todd Shirley)”
I like this article! It shows in plain language the influence that habits can have over our lives and the power they can give us when we learn how to use them to our advantage. I often find that the hardest step of any process is simply the first one: starting it. After that, it becomes easier every time.
As a guess to what you do now instead of talking to yourself: do you write things down? When I get overwhelmed inside my own head I have to get it out somehow. Thanks again for sharing, and thank you Stephanie for the guest blog post!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Mallory! I also agree that writing things down (thoughts, emotions, whatever) is my go-to therapy for overwhelm. Hence this blog!
Whowahahah, I can imagine the scene wiping the window. And I bet many made up their mind about who you are- hihihi. I have to stop reading blogs, because , Todd: You put me on to something again, which doesn’t fit into my time management as of yet, until I change some of my habits. Very good inspiration and information. Thanks. You guys make a good team.
I’ve read this book and really came away with a better understanding of how habits can be manipulated to work in your favor. I love how the human brain has an auto-pilot feature 🙂