The First Step to Changing Your Habits

Last week I introduced the concept of habit change and how habits are lodged in the subconscious mind, which determines 95% of our behaviour. This is why motivation and willpower are not effective because these modalities work on the conscious mind which only determines 5% of our behaviour.

This week I’d like to discuss how we go about starting to access our subconscious mind to change our habits. The first step to doing this is to have an overwhelming reason to change your habits, what I call ‘your powerful why.’? ‘Your powerful why’ is the reason why you are here right now on the planet.

You see, most people live lives of quiet desperation, trudging along, barely able to make it from one day to the next. Look at the people who you encounter everyday and you’ll know that this is true. The reason for this is that most people live their lives at the whim of external influences and not from a place deep within themselves.

They are governed by how society dictates they should live their lives whether its their parents, the education system, their peers, the media or the innumerable other influences that are constantly vying for our attention. However, this was not always the case.

When we were children we were less influenced by the outside world and lived a life of carefree abandon and exploration where we found joy and wonder in discovering the world around us. We lived a life of discernment where we were drawn to certain pursuits and activities which would capture our attention and put us in a timeless state. Go back and try to remember at time in your life when you lived this way.

As we grow older and what society dictates starts to infiltrate our minds, we gradually migrate  away from what truly matters to us and instead get caught in the trap of fulfilling other people’s expectations whether it is following a certain religious path,  educational path, career path or relationship path.

This is not your fault as there are not many positive influences in our lives which teach us to forge our own path in life and not follow the norm. This is because most other people around us, even those who we look to for guidance, are also being conditioned and programmed by their environment. Most people in society are followers not leaders.

So what does this have to do with habit change? If you are not living a life of passion and answering your true calling you will not have any true fulfillment in your life and you will seek your fulfillment in superficial ways. This is why most people look forward to weekends and vacations because their regular, daily lives do not truly inspire them.

However, you still need to be able to get through those regular, uninspiring days which is where bad habits develop. Bad habits develop as a way to deal with the daily, mundane routine which most people endure, whether it is spending hours on social media, watching hours of Netflix at a time, smoking cigarettes or drinking heavily on the weekends.

This is why it is important to discover ‘your powerful why.’ ‘Your powerful why’ is your true passion, your higher calling and the real reason you are here. So the question then becomes how do you discover ‘your powerful why.’ You can do this by answering some simple questions. These questions may be simple but not easy as they may take some thought and insight on your part.

What were your childhood ambitions and dreams?

What are the skills, talents and abilities that people admire you for and that you admire in others?

What can you do now that you can do for hours and not realize the time passing by?

And probably the most important question of all is what would you attempt to do if money were not an issue and you knew that you could not fail?

If you are able to deeply ponder and journal on these questions and come up with answers to them, you will have taken the first step towards discovering ‘your powerful why.’ Once you know what inspires you, then you can start moving towards it one step at a time. Once you are able to do this, you will now have an overwhelming reason to move away from any negative habit that you are trying to change.

Now I encourage you all to start pondering and journaling on those questions above and see what you come up with. As you do this you will light the seed of inspiration deep within which will start you on the path of true fulfillment. This will provide the drive to help you start moving away from your negative habits towards a truly inspired life.

Next week I’ll discuss the next step to start changing your habits.

Nauman Naeem MD

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