Habits

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I received comments from some readers, regarding last week’s post, that they have not set any New Year’s resolutions. This is as a result of setting them and not attaining them in previous years. I believe the term ‘New Year resolutions’ sometimes has negative connotations. The pressure to accomplish them can be overwhelming. What are New Year resolutions? Strip away the fancy name, New Year resolutions are simply your goals and targets for the year.

I will argue that most folks who claim not to have any 2011 New Year resolutions have actually set some goals and targets for themselves. They have simply chosen not to refer to them as New Year resolutions. It doesn’t matter what terminology you choose, what matters is to make sure that you set realistic targets or goals that are challenging enough to stretch you to grow. There is no value in staying within your comfort zone in 2011.

Productive people have good habits and unproductive people do not. Habits are learned as a result of practice and repetition. Good habits are responsible for most of your success and bad habits are responsible for most of your problems and frustrations. John Dryden said that “we first make our habits, and then our habits make us”.

Your major obstacles to having a productive 2011 are your entrenched bad habits. It is difficult to eliminate bad habits and this is why some New Year resolutions fail. The main thing you have to realise when dealing with bad habits is that they are notoriously difficult to eliminate. This is because they can only be replaced. Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch theologian, argued that as nail is driven out by another nail so is a habit overcome by another habit.

I believe that you need to replace your unproductive habits with productive ones. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something must always take the place of what is eliminated. Therefore your mantra should be less unproductive habits, more productive ones. Since time is constant for everyone (24 hours), take time from one habit (unproductive) to feed another (productive). The trick is to starve your unproductive habits to death.

So what habits are helping you or hindering you from accomplishing your 2011 goals/targets or New Year resolutions?

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Habits

  1. k.mbewe

    Couldn’t agree more, Am a DIY man so really understood the illustration of a nail that is stuck fast in the wood being driven out another nail! Only good habits can replace bad ones. My Kids have not been doing well in school, A Doctor friend of mine challenged me to spend 30 minutes each day teaching them. He told me his mum did that to him and he ended up a general Surgeon. The fact that he mentions his mum being responsible for what he is now really ministered to me. I have a bad habit, when i get back from work , i just want to be left alone. Sometimes I take a long nap, sometimes too long. I have now resolved to spend that 30 minutes my friend advised me to set aside to teach my kids. Am buying a teacher’s board, and all necessary equipment to teach my kids, thats my goal this year! My target is for my boys to be in the top 5 in the whole school. Watch this space. My kids have a bad habit of games and TV only after school. This is where we draw the line, we are driving out that crooked rusted twisted nail!!
    K.mbewe

  2. Oluwaruth

    This is so true!! I have finally come to the conclusion the only way some goals I have set to actually become reality is changing my habits. Like mentioned above most goals are not achieved because of keeping the bad habits. Something has to leave for it to be replaced… 20 days into 2011 and there is still more to discover!

    Thanks for the post Uncle Ola, this came at the right time!!

  3. Ogechi

    I love these painful yet profound truths that you write about.
    The message that sticks out for me here is: ‘starve those bad habits to death’. That’s what I’m focused on doing now and I don’t want it to be just another new year’s resolution.
    I believe in the ‘right time’ for doing something, but somehow I’ve noticed that waiting for this right time is birthing a habit of procrastination.
    So, ya, that habit is getting starved little by little this year. I’m already seeing results, and it feels good, so I’m gonna stick with it.
    One of my Pastor’s recently said that the only thing really standing in my way is me. So, hopefully, killing this bad habit is a right step to getting out of my own way… Thanks Prof!

  4. Chiedu

    Another interesting article, I personally didn’t put a name tag to my new year resolutions but I have set them all the same.
    Speaking of habits, its advisable to be careful not to replace a bad habit with an equally unproductive habit as this will lead to double jeorpady.
    Pardon my typos

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