Behavioral therapists and others who study human behavior will tell you there’s only one difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. “It’s all about their habits,” they say.
Our habits are patterns of repeated behavior—whether yoga every morning before the sun rises, lying, going to sleep at ten every night or smoking a pack a day. Specialists say that it takes around thirty days to form a habit—whether it’s a fitness routine or a tendency to lie.
Habitual behavior can make or break someone in today’s fast-paced, WiFi-loving, Starbucks-drinking culture. Because although not all habits are bad, they can shape a lot of who you are.
Here are five things your habits may be saying about you.
1. They reveal what you value least—and most.
A habit as simple as arriving late or constantly procrastinating can show what you rank at the bottom of your scale of priorities—and also what you rank at the top. What do you hold as important and unimportant in this life? Just take a look at your habits. They will speak for themselves—and most likely, they will speak to others as well.
If you have a habit of working hard, helping others or always being on time to work, it shows that you see a great deal of value in your future, your character and your work ethic. Likewise, if you are perpetually late, interrupt times with friends because you always answer your phone or commit initially only to back out late, it will be clear to the people around you what comes first in your life—and what doesn’t.
2. They reveal where you spend your time.
Habits don’t just happen overnight. If a habit takes 30 days to form, then those 30 days will tell you a lot about your commitments. Are you cutting down on your Starbucks habit so that you can read Scripture in the morning before work? Or are you routinely hitting snooze and falling off your exercise program 10 days in? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and have to make choices about we’re using our time. We make trade-offs based on what we deem most important at the time—for better or for worse.
3. They reveal the state of your mental health.
Some habits are internal, more than external. They live in our thought processes, our attitudes and our outlook. And if these mental habits go unchecked, it can cause us to live in a state of mental compression because our habits are living our lives for us. But the truth is, mental health is the beginning of all habitual health problems. If a habit, such as envy, lust, comparison, discontent, takes root in your mind, that mental habit is eventually going to be given the reins to the rest of your health if not taken care of.
4. They reveal the state of your spiritual health.
Your habits play a massive role in your sinful nature. Our habits are shaped by either a self-disciplined will, or a powerful felt need—and the latter can often pull us into habitual sin. If you really think about it, most sin is derived from a habit that has been formed over an extensive period of time, and then exposes itself when that habit yearns to be activated. On the other hand, forming habits of prayer and worship can also create virtuous habits that can counteract the destructive pull toward sin.
5. They reveal the state of your physical health.
We’re a society of busy people—and there’s a multitude of fast food, drive-thru options just for our convenience.
Look at your food and exercise habits: do you make late-night taco runs, put off your gym membership renewal, lounge around playing video games all weekend? Or do you make it a point to work out three times a week, floss your teeth daily, fill your cart with produce? Your habits will tell you a thing or two about your physical health.
It’s easy to go about our days as usual—with our habits and routines fixed in place without a thought. But if we do evaluate our default patterns, we might learn what we’re doing well and where we have room for improvement. And in 30 days, we might even be able to turn ourselves around.