Your Habits - your servants or master?


How are vital habits created?

… through diligent mindful practice!

Habit is dependable, taking you through.

It will sustain you whether you're inspired or not.

Habit will help you finish and accomplish.

Habit is persistence in practice.

Octavia Butler, writer

Habits & Vitality read Dutch publication >> CxO Magazine #149.

Habit building and evaluation is an intelligent choice. The aim of the mind for effectiveness means that tasks that are repeated, turn into habits - learned not innate. Habits are a efficiency invention of the brains. Habits happen without thinking, thereby freeing up brainpower and willpower to be invested in other challenges. This mechanism has immense advantages because it saves a lot of energy.


Habits, however, are only a blessing if we recognize the dysfunctional aspects early on and ensure timely compensation.

Not only do habits deprive us of our conscious experience. Since habits often happen almost without us noticing it, this affects our sense of time - time flies.

When we interrupt a habit in order to process new information we need attention and thus we deepen our experience. This gives us an impression of delay of the time and more ease. While in reality time has not changed, our relationship to it changes. Simply becoming aware of a habit, noticing it consciously, maybe taking a different perspective and just pausing for an instant can immediately support recovery of aliveness and thus of awareness of choice.

'Reduce energy losses' is a ambition many professionals in companies call their top priority. In fact this change occurs more successfully if individual and collective attention are combined. In many organizational cultures, for example, persistence and devotion to one's responsibility is expressed by steady marathon sessions at a desk, almost as if glued to one's seat.

Yet once people discovers how a 'sprint of 90 minutes' of concentrated work, followed by a real break of 15 minutes improves one's energy levels people are convinced of the value of rhythm: more clarity of mind, impressive creativity and working smoothly.

Still, dedication and discipline is sometimes necessary to stick to the change of adopting a sprinter rhythm. Existing habits simply have stronger pathways. So, setting an alarm to stop and restore may be required because we could 'automatically' default back to continue without pause. Therefore, a trigger is needed to stop the habit.

We often experience a change of habit as tiring because there is a mental, emotional and perhaps physical effort required to switch from the usual way to desirable behavior. Yet, soon we experience a tipping point: once the newly practiced behavior is the new standard it costs less energy.


Starting a new habit requires willpower, then routine takes over and we can rely on the automatic pilot created for the new habit. Yet, it is useful to anticipate times when the old default flares up and we feel threatened to get interrupted in our process of habituation.

Mini-habits are the recipe to avoid the experience of "failure": do less - but do not do Nothing!

Did you intend to be reflecting or just sitting in silence for 15 minutes each day?

But today your mind is taken hostage by the budget meeting?

Sit for a moment: concentrate on one breath only - perhaps a second?

That's it. Just take a moment - you have only moments to live anyway. May it be many joyous moments.

Not interrupting your new habit means you have not failed and you have nourished the feeling

"I did it." Action leads to motivation. Thinking about the doing does not - just 'thinking about it' might even have a demotivating effect.

The core of habits: anchoring in actual behavior.

Thoughts are not facts.

Click to read Dutch publication >> CxO Magazine #149 on Habits & Vitality.

©Katharina Mullen –

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