The sucking of the door seal as the fridge door opened was heard by Bryant. The rattle of the dry biscuits in his food bowl was well recognized. Lastly, the holler from his guardian, “Bryant… dinner time!” was all too familiar to him. Immediately, he leapt up and saliva dripped from his jowls as he licked his lips. This was before he even saw his food. The stimulus of the sound triad was more than sufficient to trigger his brain that jolted the memory of impending delicacy which triggered oral fluids to be released. It was unconscious. It could not be helped. It was his thought habit, just like Ivan Pavlov demonstrated so many years ago.
If you know and understand that you do not create your future (you merely create your habits and your habits create your future) and the ancestor of all actions is thought, what sort of thought habits do you have? If your physical habits are performed unconsciously and on autopilot, what is your autopilot when you are thinking? What governs your decision making when you are presented with a choice?
Decisions, no conditions, make our destiny. Regardless of where you are, what you have and how you behave right now, you can literally look back and see exactly how you have arrived at this present moment. Every decision you made resulted in your current situation. The job you took the job you did not take, the partner you chose and not choose, the decision of turning left and not right, the friend you made or avoided and many more. All those decisions cumulated in your exact situation including choosing to read this article.
So if decisions are so powerful and significant as they literally create your present situation, what affects the choice of your decision? Do you always decide consciously or switch on autopilot? (There are some people whose autopilot is not to decide!) A simple answer with profound implications would be your habit. Your thought habits dictate how you decide. If your habit is to decide consciously all the time, it is possible but the reality is that you will be exerting an enormous amount of energy that would result in fatigue very quickly. Imagine doing a SWOT analysis for a choice of clothes or whether to go to work every day! So, most people switch on autopilot for most of their decisions unless it is something specific. The question would be how effective is your autopilot? How do you determine the effectiveness of that autopilot? How do you know it is being effective? What do you compare with and is it measurable?
I offer three points for consideration. Firstly, as Simon Sinek said in his book, “Start with Why”. It may sound abstract. However, knowing your ‘Why’ will clearly affect your thought process. If a competitive swimmer’s ‘Why’ is to win the Olympics, the decision of the type of food and exercise would be very different than others. Your ‘Why’ will fine-tune your autopilot to allow you to reach it sooner than later. If you do not know your ‘Why’, or it is being dictated by someone else (including society in general), your autopilot will be shaped by someone else’s thought or more specifically, their ‘Why’. Start with your ‘Why’. Why are you here? What is your purpose? Why are you breathing? Are you merely alive or really living? Your ‘Why’ will affect your autopilot for your thoughts.
Secondly, practise making decisions. It may sound simple and possibly silly but it could actually be tricky and the implications profound. Do you know someone who cannot decide? Any choices they make are delegated to someone else. Most of the time, they say things like, “You decide”, “I don’t mind” or “Anything (or anyone) will do” and they regret the choice later. Exercise your privilege of decision making. Make all your decisions on all occasions. Making a decision is like training a muscle. Like all muscles, consistent training and flexing are needed to build in strength and in this case, conditioning the autopilot. Be sure to decide all the way to the end. Never leave a thought process incomplete. Not only will it take up space in the fore-court of your mind, cluttering it, it also breeds the habit of leaving things unfinished, both of which are detrimental to your autopilot.
Lastly, it is your self-beliefs. What sort of self-beliefs you have in place that helps you to decide? Do you have a belief like ‘I choose what I become. I am not what happened to me’? A person with that belief will have different thought habits to someone who thinks, “What’s the point? It is not up to me anyway” and result in very different thought outcomes. A person who carries the belief of “I always give more than I take” will differ greatly from someone who only knows Scarcity and not Abundance. What beliefs do you have within you? They are important because they will affect your autopilot, your thought habits.
So, how do we know how effective your thought habits (or your autopilot) are? When you have taken the three points into consideration, it would be when your thought habits are allowing you to reach your goals, fulfil your ‘Why’ and live the life you choose. It would also be when you do not have to use too much energy to think because you have conditioned your habit muscle so well that it is ready for anything at any time. It is truly unconscious. It may take energy to make a conscious decision but as it is your habit to do so, it is easier and you do not delegate your decision making easily (unless you choose to). Lastly, it would also be when you have become the person who thinks like that. It is a true identity change that is aligned with your ‘Why’. You are no longer the person who makes this sort of decision, you simply are the person.
Bryant’s thought habits are involuntary. What about yours? Do you consciously choose your thought habits? Why not? They make your decisions which makes your destiny.
‘Change your Thinking. Change your Habits. Change your Life.’