I have this particular pair of heels I always wear when I’m giving presentations. They’re simple black pointy-toe pumps, and they’re just slightly too tall to be completely comfortable. When I walk in these shoes I feel powerful, strong, and capable. And also taller, which is nice.
Why would I wear somewhat uncomfortable shoes to give a presentation? Because that slight discomfort reminds me I’m in Presentation Mode. I’ve always worn them throughout the MBA program to get up in front of people, and now when I put them on I automatically slip into the mindset that I’m powerful and strong-- exactly how I want to feel when standing in front of an audience.
The human brain is complicated, fascinating, and something that can be trained. A quick Google search for books on “habit” yields tons of titles. Habits have the power to drive us towards success or distress. Luckily, habits are something we can change.
Think of habits like “presentation shoes”: they are switches that trigger certain behaviors. Like when you step onto a yoga mat and automatically start to feel more relaxed; you are subconsciously remembering every other time you’ve stepped onto that mat and subsequently began to relax.
"Habits have the power to drive us towards success or distress."
Habits help you put yourself in the right mindset, like feeling powerful, strong, and capable to take on challenges. Some do the opposite.
Take waking up early, for example. I usually hit the snooze button at least three times before getting up, and inevitably I always feel rushed and forgetful. It’s stressful, and yet I still do it.
Last week I happened to wake up earlier than usual. I ate some breakfast, drank coffee, checked my email, grabbed everything I needed for the day and ended up 20 minutes early to class. The whole rest of the day I felt productive, like I was finally getting my act together.
Of course I still struggle with waking up early--that incident hasn’t repeated itself in a week--so this is the habit I’m trying to work on now.
Humans like routine. Both waking up late and "presentation shoes" are parts of a routine. The latter is healthy and puts one in the mindset for success. The other is a consequence of not planning, and can negatively affect the rest of your day.
If your routine isn’t setting you up for success, you’ll find yourself reacting to things rather than anticipating them--and that’s not the trait of a professional.