When you hear the word habit, what do you think of? Do bad habits like smoking, drinking, or snacking come to mind?
Or are images of freshly made beds, a person going for a daily jog, or automatically transferring a portion of your check to a savings account conjured up?
Habits can be positive or negative, but the commonality is that it is a settled or regular tendency or practice, one that is hard to give up or change.
The length of time necessary to form a habit is up for debate; many people believe that habits form in 21 days, but researchers at University College in London found that, on average, a habit took 66 days to form.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if it takes 21 or 66 days, the key takeaway from the research is that forming a positive habit or breaking a negative one takes patience and perseverance.
I can’t think of many professions that have as many daily routines, or habits, as the Military. Our spouses’ days begin with habits (unit Physical Training) and end with habits (saluting the flag during Reveille). Instead of feeling constrained by these habits, we should embrace the positive aspects of a habitual lifestyle and utilize them to help us become more effective in our own lives.
Gretchen Rubin is famous for her work in the study, and practice of, habits. One of my favorite quotes is: “What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while”. This consistent approach to daily life resonates with me and reminds me of the 20 Mile March approach to accomplishing Big, Hairy Audacious Goals.
When I began examining my own family’s habits, I was surprised at how many of them were formed and/or inspired by the Military!