I was in the gym the other day and overheard the following exchange between a woman and a man:
Woman to Man: “Did you run today?”
Man to Woman: “Not yet. When I’m done lifting I’m going for a run.”
Woman to Man: “You are so disciplined. I wish I had your motivation.”
Man to Woman: “It’s just a habit. No discipline or motivation. Just a habit.”
That one exchange best summarizes the real power of habits. They remove the need for motivation and discipline (willpower). If you have to rely on motivation or willpower to engage in good behavior, like exercise, you won’t engage in that good behavior for long. It will be short-lived. Motivation and discipline works for only a short period of time. Eventually the motivation and willpower will fade and you will stop engaging in the new behavior. When that good behavior, however, becomes a habit, it transforms the behavior from temporary to permanent and makes motivation or discipline irrelevant.
For the man in the gym, he was just engaging in habitual behavior – exercise. He was not particularly motivated or disciplined. That’s the miracle of habits. They give the perception to others that you are highly motivated or disciplined, but in actuality habits remove the need for motivation and discipline.