Habits impact life, hold large influence


Forming habits may be easier than initially believed.

Fletcher Haltom, Opinion Editor

Repetition is often recognized as a legitimate tactic to build productive routines, but the true value that it holds is seldom acknowledged. Repetition, at the most basic level, builds habits. Although habits may not seem especially important, they play larger roles in people’s lives than many realize.

Habits, repeated behaviors that tend to occur subconsciously, are uniquely important practices. A study from Duke University revealed that up to 45% of actions taken by the average person are automatic behaviors. Much of daily life consists of habits, both positive and negative. Once the significance of habits is recognized, then they can begin to be tailored and molded to create positive change and behaviors.

Contrary to a widely-held belief popularized by Maxwell Maltz, it does not take 21 days to form a new habit. In fact, there is not necessarily any concrete amount of time needed to create a habit, although researchers at University College London reported that it takes an average of 66 days. However, it is verifiable that habits can be constructed. 

Forming a habit can be a daunting task. Often, it requires not only repetition but also organizing a routine. In order to form positive habits, it is easiest to establish a regular, repeatable routine. In a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, it was found that 90% of people who exercised regularly had a certain time that cued their desire to exercise. The repeated action of exercising at a certain time formed a habit that made the action easier to engage in. 

Forming positive habits relies on discipline and routine, and these tactics can be applied to virtually any task. Studying, for example, can be a difficult action for many students to take. By setting aside a time period each day to study, a student can gradually create a habit of studying that will eventually become nearly automatic. Forming habits is a crucial skill for succeeding academically. Studying effectively, sleeping a healthy amount and finishing homework on time can all be aided by the formation of habits. When these practices become habitual, they become simpler to undertake in the future.

On the other hand, not all habits are positive. In fact, habits are often given a negative connotation, due to well-known, harmful habits such as procrastination and overspending. While these types of routines are harmful, bad habits can be managed. One way to cut out a bad habit is to focus on creating a positive one in its place. By focusing attention on forming a new, beneficial habit, it makes it easier to stop engaging in negative routines. In addition to this, a University of Southern California study concluded that erasing negative cues from an environment has a profound effect on the management of bad habits. For example, when lids are placed on candy jars, people will be less likely to indulge in their bad habits and eat the candy. Consequently, adding additional hindrances to harmful activities can greatly minimize bad habits.

Habits influence daily life on a level that not many are aware of. By forming habits intentionally, and choosing to create beneficial habits, productive routines can be created. Additionally, by subconsciously creating these behaviors, they can be used in an advantageous manner.