Advice & Help

Kicking the Habit

Imagine your life to be a well knitted blanket with several colors and patterns. Your habits could be akin to each of those intricately woven threads that make up the blanket. They are the behaviors you repeat so often that they have become ingrained as part of your daily routine – the way you dress, eat, drive a car, answer the phone or greet someone. They affect every area of your life including your work, family, income, hobbies and relationships and together determine how your life works. Human beings are naturally creatures of habit. Our behaviors and the way in which we conduct ourselves within society at large are predictable. For the most part this is a good thing because it enables us to be perceived as dependable, reliable and consistent. Just imagine going to work every morning and not knowing how your boss will behave. Imagine the nightmare of going home to an unpredictable spouse. Predictability defines normal behavior in our society. However, getting stuck in a routine can result in complacency.

Shun the comfort zone

Success in life is born of change. It is only through growth that we are able to reach higher levels of achievement. Most people resist change, primarily due to fear, choosing instead to remain in the familiar arena of the comfort zone. Lingering in the comfort zone is so easy to do because it affords security and familiarity which we all crave. However, despite the security blanket which the comfort zone provides, it is probably the greatest single enemy of your potential for greater success and achievement. The familiarity of the comfort zone has the potential to get you stuck in a rut, causing you to resist change and growth.

Successful men and women are those who use the comfort zone as a base camp from which they can launch, explore and push the limits of their potential. They are willing to be a little uncomfortable, understanding that this is the price they must pay in order to be all they can be. Invariably, these are ultimately the most fulfilled members of society.

The chains of habits

Samuel Johnson noted that “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” This is true. Their consequences and effects do not show up until much later. That explains why someone would continue to practice habits that all would agree will have dire consequences in the long run. They will continue to smoke because lung cancer doesn’t show itself right after the first puff. They continue to eat unhealthily because their arteries aren’t blocked with the first bite. They continue to turn up for work late because they are not fired after the first instance of tardiness. Everyday they continue to engage in these negative practices thinking it doesn’t matter, but of course, we know that in the long run it does.

Habits exert a significant influence in your life. They can be loyal, faithful servants helping you reach new heights just as easily as they can be the worst of masters and freeze you in your tracks. The bottom line is that the not so successful expends the same amount of energy as the successful. The successful person makes it a habit to practice six or more disciplines daily while the not so successful is in the habit of practicing the six or so disempowering disciplines.

Replace old habits

Someone once described bad habits to be like a comfortable bed – easy to get into but difficult to get out of. Any attempt to change a non-supportive habit leads to a period of great discomfort until you have physically and mentally adjusted to the new demand. The person who embarks on a new diet suffers from hunger pangs, a new exercise regimen results in sore muscles, kicking a drug habit leaves the user reeling from withdrawal symptoms. In the same way that your habits took time to develop and become ingrained in the fabric of your daily life, it will take time to change them and develop new ones. They say it takes twenty-one days to assume a new habit. In actuality, it only takes a split second decision to adopt a new habit. However, it does take twenty-one consecutive days of practicing this new habit for it to replace the old one and to become a part of your routine behavior.

Although old habits die hard, remember that they are learned behaviors and anything that is learned can be unlearned. Through consistent effort and a clear focus you have the ability to replace old non-supportive habits with those that will guide and drive you towards your goals.

Keep On Pushing!

About the author

Devon Harris

Devon Harris was a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and competed in three Winter Olympics; he later joined the army and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Born on Christmas Day, 1964 and raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, the greatest gift Devon Harris ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger.A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.