Habit Myth #1: Habits kill spontaneity

PrincessBrideThere’s a scene in the classic movie “The Princess Bride” where the swordsman Inigo Montoya (“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”) turns to the self-described genius Vizzini, who has shrieked “Inconceivable!” for perhaps the tenth time, and observes, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” That comment comes to mind whenever I hear someone trot out this particular myth.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has several definitions of spontaneity, including these:

  • done or said in a natural and often sudden way and without a lot of thought or planning
  • proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency
  • controlled and directed internally

That sounds suspiciously similar to the definition of a habit. Is it possible that spontaneity, rather than being the opposite of a habit-focused life, is itself a habit?

Spontaneity is a learned response. It’s the willingness to try something new. This takes effort and discipline, and the courage to break out of the comfort zone. These are habits of thought and action.

What does spontaneity mean to you? Do you see it as going with the flow, acting on every impulse? Or is it a formless notion that is characterized by what it lacks: planning, discipline, direction? If so, why do you see it as something worthwhile?

GIDIG’s core objective is to help you identify and focus on the things you value. Once you get into that mindset, you’ll find it applies not just to your carefully planned, long-term goals, but also to your definition of spontaneity. Good habits prompt you to do things. Instead of reaching for a bag of Cheetos and settling down for a couple hours of channel surfing, you may find yourself having small, unexpected adventures and indulging in moments of inspired whimsy.