Habits: Where is Your Autopilot Taking You?

habits success

Habits are our autopilot system.  When we are not consciously directing our actions, our habits direct them for us.  Successful people deliberately program their autopilot system to take them where they want to go.  Unsuccessful people spend most of their lives with autopilot on, but have no idea where it is taking them and have no idea how to give it directions!

We are all born with an amazing brain with this incredible autopilot feature.  Unfortunately our brain did not come with an owner’s manual.  Luckily, scientists have tinkered around enough to figure a lot out.

From Wikipedia, a habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously.  Habits are formed by regular repetition of a behavior until it becomes automatic.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, the time required to form a new habit is between 18 to 254 days; 66 days is the average.

Habit formation occurs in three stages:

Stage 1: The cue – an association that triggers the behavior

Stage 2: The actual behavior

Stage 3: The reward – a positive feeling that reinforces the behavior

Thus to program our autopilot system, we need a cue or something that reminds us to take action and a reward for completing the action.

My favorite method for forming a new habit is to connect the new behavior to a habit I already have.  I use an existing habit as the cue for the new habit.  I found I can form a new habit in 10-20 days using this trick.

In The Miracle Morning, Hal describes a process for building a series of habits he performs every morning.  This idea is pure gold; it is easily in the top 10 best ideas I have ever discovered.

Here’s why it is absolutely brilliant:

1. The morning routine is performed EVERY DAY.  This drives incremental improvement everyday.  As discussed in Success is Built on Habits, not Defining Moments, even tiny incremental improvements achieved daily will snowball to spectacular success.

2. The routine is performed the first thing every morning.  Everyday starts on the right foot.  Momentum is HUGE.  When you are having a great productive day, it is easy to keep being productive.  The opposite is also true.  When a day starts out bad, it usually stays and ends that way.

3. We love our habits.  We look forward to them.  I look forward to performing my morning ritual every morning.  It is honestly the best part of my day!

4. We can specifically design a morning routine that will drive us towards success.

Here is my personal morning routine:

Total Time, 1 hour, 40 minutes

  1. (15 min) Get out of bed, use the toilet.  Read autobiography of a highly successful person while on the toilet.
  2. (15 min) Warm up for workout.  Spend a minute visualizing achieving each one of my goals:
    1. Financial
    2. Physical
    3. Personal Self-development
    4. Relationships
  3. (60 min) Perform workout while listening to a motivational book or podcast.  Jot down ideas while resting between sets.
  4. (15 min) Drink protein shake at my computer.  Record ideas in Journal.  Create several action items I can accomplish today to move me towards my goals.
  5. Shower and start the day

At the end of this routine, I am completely pumped, excited, and motivated to take massive action and get a ton accomplished.

Here is why my routine works particularly well for me.  I wake up every morning because I need to use the restroom (THE CUE).  I’m still a little groggy, so spending 15 minutes on the john reading is a great way to coax me awake.  I do not check email or look at anything that could distract my mind from my morning routine.  I read the autobiography of a success giant for inspiration.

My warm up routine makes my body 100% awake and ready for the workout.  Visualizing achieving each of my goals 1) keeps them in my focus 2) makes me believe I can and will achieve them and 3) reinforces my desire and commitment to them

During my workout, I perform my daily plan for achieving my physical goals.  I always think most clearly and have my best ideas while working out.  Listening to a motivational book or podcast right after visualizing each of my goals causes my mind to brainstorm great ideas for making progress toward the goals.

After the workout, I drink a chocolate protein shake.  I love chocolate and my body is filled with endorphins from the workout (BIG REWARDS!).  I sit down and relax while getting my ideas into my journal.  Before I start each day, I have a list of actions I can accomplish that day that will get me closer to my goals.  I love getting each one done and checking them off the list.

Where is your autopilot taking you?  Do you start each day with massive positive momentum?

If you are interested in learning more about creating a morning routine, definitely read Hal’s book.  Hal’s idea is absolutely brilliant.  A good morning routine followed daily will absolutely change your life.


Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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