Habits vs routines vs commitments

I see people confusing habits with routines or, worse, commitments! Yes, they’re all interrelated but quite different from each other. Here’s a handy explanation that might help you understand the difference and prioritize what you need to work on right now.

Behaviors that flow automatically and do not require a conscious effort. They’re often prompted from a triggering situation, like you jumping out of bed when that 4 am alarm goes off. Or you are cracking your knuckles every 30 minutes. You don’t have to think; it just happens.

Behaviors that we repeatedly do but require a deliberate effort and thinking. Sure, they become easier over time, but they still need active attempt and can’t be fully automated, like a habit. So, you might be jumping out of your bed when that alarm goes off, but waking up at 4 am to read, write, and train (as is the case with yours truly) still requires a considerable effort.

They have similarities to both habits and routines. Like habits, they get easier over time, and like routines, they require an ongoing investment of effort; otherwise, you backslide (aka, going back to the old ways). A commitment is a self-imposed rule that you’re always under the pressure of not breaking until you get used to it, like non-vegetarians switching over to vegetarianism or training 5-days a week.

Now, irrespective of the differences and the priorities you have in life right now, there are just two possibilities — you either don’t have to think about it, or it gets easier over time. The key is to make a decision and stick it out no matter what.

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