It’s nice to be comfortable; isn’t it? I mean who really enjoys being uncomfortable? We all seek comfort on some level. In fact when you’re out of your comfort zone, your hands shake, you get sweaty, your heart races and other uncomfortable symptoms surface, warning you to get back to what’s “familiar.” Not convinced? Try this….
Fold your arms in front of you like you normally and comfortably do. Take a moment to do a visual inventory. Which arm is on top? Which is below? Do you have open hands or fists? Are your hands visible or tucked away? Now take your mental picture of “normal,” only this time, refold your arms in the exact opposite direction. Yep…do every position completely opposite. It’s hard, isn’t it? You really have to think about it! More than that, how does it feel to you?
When I do this exercise with groups, most people moan that it feels odd or uncomfortable. When I ask what they’d like to do next, they inevitably admit, “Go back to normal!”
Habits are a great way of keeping you in a comfortable routine.
With all the information and activity you need to manage on a constant basis, habits allow for regular behavior patterns that involve little to no conscious thought at all. Getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, driving daily to work, and all those other “non-essential thinking” activities, afford you the leisure of functioning with minimal stress and effort. The bad news is habits, even good ones that served you well in the past, can get in the way of your next-level living.
It’s obvious how bad habits stunt your potential, and there’s plenty of good information on how to break them. What’s often harder to discern are the “good” habits keeping you stuck where you are. Why? We often believe and tell ourselves it’s what we’re presently doing that’s worked so well and created our success….and, likely, it is! But the more comfortable we are at being good at something, the harder it often is to be great.
I witness this time and again when working within organizations and with highly successful people. It’s not that they lack the potential to do better; they’ve just locked on to particular habits or processes they feel insured their past successes.
And a principle of human behavior is when you lock on to some particular way of behaving or looking at things, you also lock out the other ways. That’s how you’re wired; that’s how the minds works.
As long as you’re satisfied with maintaining your current outcomes, and all other factors in your environment remain constant, then your current habits can be a benefit. The problem is nothing remains constant. Factors are always changing. And at some point, the law of diminishing returns sets in. Just like athletes who plateau from muscle memory and stagnated growth, your routines that created ease and comfort eventually work against you. You know the saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” It’s a truism that works against goal-setting, next-level living, and changing from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Habits have a way of ensnaring and enslaving you.
Now it’s essential to lock on to good habits; otherwise, you’d never take any action or see any significant change. You just need to be aware that the habits you’ve locked onto are keeping you YOU.
Growth and change require you to consciously break free of routines, even good ones, so you can explore the vast opportunities of potential and possibilities that God has uniquely provided for you.