Today starts a four-part series on Self-Awareness and the role it plays in crafting lives that shine. At House of Shine we spend a lot of time talking about being aware of our Strengths, so... Read More »
Self-Awareness is Like a Skeleton Key
Today is installment number two in a four-part series on the role self-awareness plays in helping us shine brighter. The focus of today is Habits.
Last week Katie asked me a series of questions during Car Chronicles, prompted by her finishing the book The Power of Habit. We were using it as an opportunity to share information with listeners that would help them free themselves of a bad habit or incorporate a new good habit into their lives.
Using myself as a case study, so Katie could apply the three elements of a Habit Loop (Cue, Routine, Reward), I shared a habit I wished I could break.
I confessed that I wished I could stop eating a small sweet treat after most every lunch and dinner. I’ve allowed the habit to become a post-meal ritual and it doesn’t serve me well.
Katie helped me establish that the Cue – the thing that triggers my habit – is finishing a meal. The Routine most often is opening my freezer and indulging in a small square of frozen chocolate.
The Reward is where I had work to do. Katie challenged me to think about what Reward I was receiving by eating chocolate.
The Reward can’t be feeling good about myself, because even while I am eating the chocolate I am beating myself up for having a total lack of discipline.
It isn’t sharing a moment with someone else. I almost always eat it alone.
It isn’t health benefits. Most of the time my candy bar of choice isn’t dark chocolate and, even if it were, the health benefits of twice daily are questionable.
The more I thought about it, the Reward that kept coming to mind was
Stay with me to understand.
I already know that two things I value are achievement and productivity, but what I hadn’t considered is how those attributes might influence my micro-decisions. I consider micro decisions tiny behaviors we do unknowingly to fill space. Using the word “ummm” or “like” is an example of a micro decision someone might make when nervous about speaking in public.
For me, heading to the freezer is a micro decision. The senseless act buys me one or two more minutes before transitioning out of my meal and back into the next thing on my to-do list. Think of it as equivalent to an athlete’s pre-game ritual.
Sound crazy? Maybe, but for me a lightbulb went off.
Self-awareness is just that, knowledge of self. It doesn’t matter if a single other person understands how chocolate from the freezer could be buy me anything other than bigger hips. Katie’s questions, coupled with my own self-awareness, has helped me understand the dynamics involved in keeping my habit loop going.
That’s the power of self-awareness. When applied to our lives, the insights we gain serve as skeleton keys to doors of opportunity. They unlock new possibilities that lead to greater happiness and fulfillment. Turn your own key. What’s a habit you would like to lose? How can something you know about yourself help explain what Reward you might currently be gaining by doing it?