When I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I was hooked early. Knowing a bit of the science behind why we do what we do gave me insight about myself and about others as well. One of the most fascinating sections in the book was a description of how a habit forms in our minds like a rut in the road. I can easily picture a dirt road in the country with a well-worn groove down each side, and every time the driver tries to veer off course, it pulls them right back in again. When you’re driving down that road in those well-worn grooves, it’s easy, comfortable, relaxing, and gives your mind time to wander without thinking about driving. I can see the sunshine, the wind in my hair…well, you get the idea.
To veer off that path, I have to stop daydreaming and think. I have to put both hands on the steering wheel, turn down the music and focus on the road ahead. And similar to this intentional effort to literally get out of a rut, the same is true with a habit we want to change. While it is not impossible, we tend to go back to a habit easily. We take the path of least resistance and often daydream our way through the day focusing only on the “to-do’s” that are on fire.
It takes effort to change. It takes intentionality to change. It is not something we can do passively. And going back to that rut is easy. But with consistent effort, we can change our habits, and make new “ruts” in the road formed by intentionality. There are cues that we can use to help with making those changes – the book does a great job of explaining the why behind this. It starts with a determination to do it. Setting your mind to it and being consistent and consciously aware.
If you haven’t read The Power of Habit, I highly recommend it. It may literally help you get out of a rut.