Why are we creatures of habit?
by Tim Dent
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What is habit? Well it’s simple really, it is something we do all of the time. Things like leaving the house at the same time for work, going the same route, eating the same things during the week, etc.
I bet you could think of five things that you consistently do every week…now think of completely changing them. Terrifying isn’t it?
I have become aware of this for two reasons.
Firstly I attended a phenomenal talk by Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland, in which he described this very point in a superbly engaging way – hats off to Rory.
Secondly, I have endured a move of house after nearly three years of living in the same place. All I could think of was the negatives.
‘Why is my room smaller?!’
‘How do I work the shower?!?’
‘Why is this train taking so long?!?!’
At no point was I thinking about the better quality of the area, the wonderful loch and garden I can now enjoy, or the fact that I’m living with a close friend.
Now, luckily for me I still had the wisdom of Friday’s talk bombarding around my head like an overzealous pinball machine. So after a lovely cappuccino and a good bit of introspection; I realised that my frustration had come from my change of routine. It’s also worth mentioning that work was a life saver – back into a routine I’m very familiar with.
So why do we hate change?
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ― Albert Einstein.
We as humans are habitual in all of our doings, some good and some bad, regardless we still keep the same habits.
I suppose a good habit is eating fruit every day, going to the gym or reading a book (check out my last post). A bad habit could be smoking, procrastinating or not sleeping enough because of Netflix’s latest TV gold. I think it’s important to understand which is which, and then act on it; in recruitment we are very used to helping people with their change of job. This can be stressful, emotional and even scary; but if you go back to the original reasons as to why you wanted to change in the first place, it is actually nothing in comparison.
So the next time you find yourself wanting to change something about your life, either little or large – start to take action straight away and try to focus on the positives at the end of the journey. In the words of Coldplay, ‘nobody said it was easy’ along with some other melancholic nonsense…
Good luck and check out Rory Sutherland on TED talks.