There’s a simple three-step process for building habits to help you achieve your goal. It’s called ACT, and you must survey your habits to find and modify those habits getting in your way and build new habits to help you achieve your goal. Here are the three steps:

Aware —

Be aware of the habit that is holding you back. If you’re not sure what it is, ask a friend, teacher, or expert. Be willing to set your ego aside and take an honest look at actions you take for granted. Success is in the details.

Concentrate —

Focus on the action or actions that need changing. If you consistently show up late to work or school, then you’ve developed a habit. Identify the action that’s making you late and concentrate on ways to take a new action that will change your habit, such as getting up ten minutes earlier in the morning.

Take Control —

Once you’ve evaluated the action that needs to be changed in order to build a habit that helps instead of hinders you, take control of it! Know that any action you generate is your own — you OWN it, and it’s within your control. Don’t get discouraged; it can take time to change old habits, but it can be done. IT’S UP TO YOU!

As you start to put ACT to use, a funny thing will happen: You’ll build a habit of surveying your habits. What better habit is there than one that helps you constantly improve?

“The trick is to identify which habits are preventing you from succeeding and to then modify them so they no longer get in your way.”

Whether you’re on a journey to lead SEALs into combat, sing on a world stage, or sail the seven seas, the sooner you understand how habits work, the sooner you’ll be on your path to success. Habits are nothing more than a specific sequence of actions. Almost every action you take is part of a larger collection. A collection or sequence of actions that, over time, becomes automatic is a habit. The good news is that habits are completely within your control. The trick is to recognize the habit you want to change, identify the actions of that habit, and make the changes necessary to create a new habit. And critical habits can be created even faster. Take opening a parachute, for example. It did not take me twenty-one days to build that habit! The process for creating good habits is NO different than the one for bad habits.

Mills, Alden M. Be Unstoppable: The 8 Essential Actions to Succeed at Anything (Second Edition). Tilbury House Publishers.

In a previous post, Exercise to Execute, I talked about a fundamental, life-changing habit that has many benefits: it gives you strength and stamina to work harder for longer; it makes you healthier so you visit the doctor a lot less often than those who don’t exercise; and it’s proven to fight depression. The most challenging storms you’ll face aren’t those at sea; they are the ones that occur between your ears — in your mind. Exercise helped me face adversity and find success, and I believe that it can do the same for you.

There are other habits you need to be on the lookout for. You need to be ever-vigilant and on guard for habits that will prevent you from going after your chosen courses. Unhealthy habits such as drinking excessively or using drugs can ruin you long before you even get started. Dishonorable habits such as lying, cheating, or stealing can sink your integrity, and with it your chances of success. We all make mistakes, but when we do, be responsible for your actions by taking them head-on; steer your bow directly toward them and then deal with them. Maintain your course and speed and don’t look back. Focus on the next wave.

Survey Your Habits

You need to build a habit of always watching your actions. Remember, your actions are what make your habits. By creating a habit of surveying your actions, you’ll create a safety net for catching a bad habit before it can knock you off course. Make sense? It’s important that you understand that actions are the building blocks of habits, and you’re in control of your actions and therefore of your habits. Are you with me?