Image: Monina Velarde

Habits. We all have them; good or bad, right or wrong (ask my wife and children, they would soon give you a list of all of mine!). The truth is, spend a little time with anyone and you will quickly be able to identify theirs.

The fact is that our lives are really made up of these habits. Someone once said that we are what we repeatedly do. Or, in other words, our life is the sum of our habits (good or bad). The good news however is that we have the power and ability to choose and change the habits in our lives, which ultimately means that we have the power to influence the outcome of our lives, careers and future.

At the start of every year, millions of people try and ‘better’ themselves by making ‘resolutions’: I’m going to get fit, I’m not going to eat junk food, I’m going to give up smoking etc, etc. Chances are you have made some of these as well. The problem is, of course, that within a short period of time, and when the pressures of life start to mount, we resort to going back to our old ways of living – to old habits. This is because we are trying to change from the outside. Real change happens from the inside and works outward. Let me explain.

Almost all habits come from the way we think; from our thoughts. Someone once told me that to effect real change in our lives, we must first change the way that we think. That changes what we believe, and if we change what we believe, we change the way we speak and, ultimately, we change the way we act.

Let me explain this a little. Our thoughts (the way we see ourselves, situations and others) frame our lives. The bible puts it this way: ‘as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.’ If we constantly think of ourselves as stupid, fat, poor, no good, etc then that’s what we will live out in our lives, and it is also what we will display to everyone around us.

I remember when I was going through school I had a very low opinion of myself and my ‘educational abilities’. When I had to sit exams or tests of any kind, I would always see it as a pointless exercise as I ‘knew’ that I would fail. What I didn’t understand was that thinking this way became a self fulfilling prophecy and others around me treated me accordingly.

One day the Guidance Counselor was asking all the kids what they wanted to do when they left school so they could try and help shape the students’ subjects to help prepare them for that future. When it was my turn to see our wonderful Guidance Counselor and she asked me what I wanted to do, I answered, “I want to work in the computer industry.” To this day, I still remember the way she looked at me and what she said. Her words were basically this: “You’re too stupid to work with computers, pick something more in line with your abilities.”

This incident annoyed me no end, and when I shared it with a good friend he told me about these principles. So I started to change the way I thought about myself; I started to see myself positively and I started to talk that way. To my amazement, my confidence began to grow and people started to treat me differently. This did not happen over night of course, but over time things began to change. (By the way, I went on to work for over 10 years in the computer industry.)

By changing the way we think about ourselves, we start to change what we believe about ourselves. This then creates a difference in the way that we behave and relate to others, which leads to a different outcome for our lives. Let me be clear, this is not just about positive confession or thinking. Those things are just the start, which then lead to the development of beliefs from which we form habits in our lives that eventually create the change that we are looking for. Over the next few posts I would like to share some habits that, if adopted, can have a huge affect on anyone’s life or career.

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