It took me a long time to appreciate habit. I grew up without any. Smoking was the my first real habit, but I haven’t even had a cigarette in twelve years.
This all changed in March of 2015 when I started a new workout program. The name of the program isn’t important – it’s also embarrassing – What matters is that it removed the burden of having to think.
Popular culture has given habit a bad reputation. It’s either wrapped up with destructive addictions or used to describe someone who doesn’t live an exciting life. Have you ever been called a “creature of habit”? Me too.
Habits are just the sum of all our our actions – both helpful and counterproductive. Unless you’re the kind of person who denies the principle of cause and effect, it’s clear that small changes maintained over time can have significant effects in the long run.
When flying, we were encouraged to habitually work through our checklists the exact same way, every time. As a pilot you’d get so used to the flow that when something was different – due to your own mistake or an outside influence – the hair would stand up on the back of your neck. When you inevitably encountered that feeling, you paid attention and figured out what was different. That feeling that something just wasn’t right saved me from embarrassment or worse on several occasions.
Likewise, a casual or unfocused approach to your checklists could get a pilot in a lot of trouble, particularly if an external force created a distraction at just the wrong moment.
Building good habits, keeping them, and restoring them when outside forces interfere may be difficult, but it’s the key to personal progress. I’m looking forward to reading along as Kevin’s latest habit unfolds.