Turning Knowledge into Habit

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. (John, C Maxwell)

Today’s world is saturated with information that we can readily access from our fingertips. Resources such as books, articles, blogs, YouTube and TED talks are fantastic sources of useful knowledge, often with great practical value.

But how many times have you come across useful information like, for example, how improve your happiness or the keys to becoming a better leader, yet nothing became of it despite your inspiration?

Given we have busy lives, often we succumb to our competing priorities and put aside development activity on the backburner. At these times, we may even convince ourselves that we will somehow build this information into our repertoire just by virtue of it being front of mind. However, awareness of knowledge is just a small step in the process of achieving change.

The reality is, without urgent attention and a ‘plan to action’, often this knowledge quickly becomes an afterthought as life’s competing priorities take over.
So how then do we more successfully translate knowledge & information we have learned into actual behavioural change?

The essence of John, C Maxwell’s quote is that daily commitment is required for habitual change. Habit, in many ways, is confirmation of behavioural change.

I offer some practical steps to help you transform your knowledge into habit.

1) Be realistic about behavioural change – we first need to understand and be realistic about the demands of behavioural change. Whether we are trying to acquire a new skill or rid a bad habit, changing or forming a new behaviour is simply ‘bloody hard work’. In reality it’s going to take effort and discipline. Thus, we must appreciate and be realistic about the demands of change before we can successfully action it.

2) Plan and commit to practice – What actions will you commit to ‘daily’ to ensure that you can continually practice the skill you would like to learn? How much time is required per day, when will this practice occur, and how will you fit this around your other priorities? How will you simply remind yourself to practice? In most occasions, it takes relentless commitment and informed structured practice for successful change.

3) Checking in on progress – Constant self-awareness and reflection during and after practice is required to monitor your own progress i.e. to what extent is change occurring? I find that writing a reflective journal can be an excellent means of monitoring improvement. Perhaps you may like to consider feedback from others to also measure progress? The ideal success measure is to be able to do it without thinking about it, until then – it’s not habit.

4) Let go and Trust – Often a tricky decision is simply knowing when to let go and trust that your hard work has paid off and that you’ve successfully made the change. It is important to do this because, as in most cases, there is no real need for constant awareness. You are best off directing subsequent energy and focus elsewhere. In fact, constant awareness thereafter may even become a distraction in the form of ‘overthinking’.
So next time you feel inspired to commit to forming a new habit and making a change, try the above steps. With greater commitment and application you will more likely be successful. Or otherwise, you may decide to make a rational choice not to make a particular change given the required sacrifice. After all, one needs to choose their battles wisely!

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