Updated: Aug 27, 2019
We all have habits...good and bad. I get up at 4:40 every morning. I make coffee every morning. I let my dogs out and feed them, every morning. I brush my teeth every morning. I sit in my big, comfy chair to start working, every morning. I log on to social media every morning. I check my email every morning. Some of these habits are good ones and help me to get my day started. Other habits are, well, probably detrimental, but yet, tomorrow, I will probably follow the same path that I do every day. These decisions are unconscious. I don't think about them, I just do them. I'm on autopilot. I KNOW that when I sit in my comfy chair, I feel sleepier and more relaxed. I'm more easily distracted and less sharp. So, WHY do I continue to do this when I know it's counterproductive?
Well, that answer is complicated. Why do we eat junk food when, consciously, we know it's not healthy and increases the size of our waistline? Why do we do any of the things that we do? I believe we try something a few times, it brings us joy, so we keep doing them and then they become habits. Eating cake or pizza makes us "feel" good (at least at the moment). Carbs make me happy! :) (I actually avoid almost all carbs, but that's another conversation!). Eating a piece of celery, not so much, so we eat more carbs and then pretty soon, it becomes a habit. Carbs and food that is bad for us is cheap and plentiful. I went to a fast food place the other day. A burger, fries and coke was on a Tuesday special for $4.00. Their grilled chicken salad, yep, $9.95. I asked when the salad was on special and they laughed and said never. So, it's easy for me just to grab the burger, almost a no-brainer...taste good, easy to eat on the go and cheap.
I think unconscious decisions are easy decisions. I think it takes effort to make conscious decisions. Think back to my morning decisions. The big, comfy chair, affectionately known in my house as "my chair", causes me to be less productive. But, it's easy. There's an outlet, side table and window right next to the chair. It's easy to sit in and work and kick off for a nap if I am getting a little fried. I only feel the need to move out of the chair for nourishment or the bathroom. But, is that what is best??? NO! I should sit at my table or desk. I KNOW I'm more focused and productive and I move more because the chair is less comfortable and movement helps spur creativity.
So, now that we understand WHY things are done unconsciously and some are good, some are bad, how do we change this habit?
I propose that you first take inventory of the things you do daily that you don't even think about.
Next, think about the impact to your day/life that these daily unconscious decisions make on your life. If they have a positive impact, let em go and leave em alone. Can you imagine how exhausted you'd be if EVERY decision was a conscious one? If the decision is negatively impacting you, think of an alternative.
Finally, make a bold statement. I am choosing to _____________so that I ___________. For me, I might say, I am choosing to set up shop in my office today so that I can maintain a higher level of focus.
If I do this often enough, it will become a habit or an unconscious decision, if you will. But then I can move that over to my positive unconscious decision list.
Give it a try today and change one thing that is unconscious and negatively impacting you.
To a better tomorrow...