A habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.
We are creatures of habits, defining our behavior and consequences of it.
Everyone has some bad and good habits, for example:
The bad one is letting yourself binge eat while watching movies. ( Counter this one with daily exercising, and chewing gum instead of snacks)
Good one: Read and learn in free time.
The key to changing ourselves is changing our habits, one by one. With time and effort, any habit can be reshaped, newly formed, and one of the rewards is a new body for the long term? .
We suggest you make a list of all changes you want and adjust or create new habits that lead you toward goals. To start pick one with the most impact on your life?
WARNING: PRACTICE ONLY ONE HABIT AT A TIME, TRYING TO CHANGE MORE THAN ONE WILL DEPLETE YOUR WILLPOWER AND EVENTUALLY CAUSE YOU TO FAIL.
Each habit is a loop of three components. The cue, routine, and reward.
To understand your habits, you need to identify components of your loop :
1)ROUTINE– it is the behavior you want to change. An example would be opening a bag of chips after coming from work and then lay down comfortably watching a tv show. So that’s what you put into the loop.
2) CUE — is it stress? Low blood sugar? Boredom?
3) REWARD Is it the food itself? Is it a relaxed state? Is it fun?
Experimenting with rewards
Rewards satisfy our cravings. To figure out which cravings are driving our habits, experiment with different rewards. During this period, you shouldn’t feel any pressure to make a real change — think of yourself as a scientist in the data collection stage.
•1. day pick routine that delivers a different reward. For example, instead of opening a bag of chips when you come home from work, try replacing chips with healthy food like meal salad.
•2. the day you can simply take a relaxing warm shower immediately after you arrive home.
•3. the day you can call a friend to hang out or have a conversation with, maybe the socialization is the answer.
The point is discovering which craving drives your routine, is it fun you crave for while snacking and watching a movie? Or chips cracking under your teeth gives you relief from stress? Or you want to relax and in that case, a warm shower could do the work.
If after the shower you still want to eat chips, then you’re not after relaxation. If a regular meal isn’t satisfying, hunger is not the problem. But If after a phone call or going out with a friend, you feel alright, then the fun might be a reward you crave.
Isolate the cue(trigger of habit)
Most of the cues fall in these 5 categories :
3. Emotional state
4. Other people
5. Immediately preceding action
To identify the cue for the “ Opening bag of chips “ habit, write down 5 facts about the moment the urge hits, for example :
Where are you? At home
What time is it? 7:30 pm
What’s your emotional state? Tensed
Who else is around? No one
What action preceded the urge? Entered the home
-Where are you? At home
-What time is it? 7:55pm
-What’s your emotional state? Tired
– Who else is around? My roommate
– What action preceded the urge? Entered the home
-Where are you? At home
-What time is it? 7:40pm
-What’s your emotional state? Excited
– Who else is around? Partner
– What action preceded the urge? Sat down to watch a movie with a partner
It is clear that habit is triggered at home at a certain time of day ( between 7:30 pm and 8 pm), and in the previous step, we concluded fun was the reward. Then we describe a habit: I come home from work around 7:30–8 pm ( The Cue), and I’m looking for some fun ( The Reward), and snacking chips is The Routine.
Have a plan
Once you figured out the habit loop, shift the behavior. The cue and the reward you crave will always stay the same, but the routine can be improved so it wouldn’t have a bad impact on your good.
To successfully change the behavior(routine), we need a plan. It might sound like this: “ Whenever I come home after work, I will call a friend or go outside to have fun “.
You can set up the alarm for the triggered time ( 7:30) as a reminder for the new behavior. After a few weeks, you eventually stop thinking about the routine anymore. Usually, it takes 21 days roughly to form a new habit.
Forming new habits
Let’s say you want to build a habit “ working out 3x per week “.
You can set alarm 3 days a week as a CUE/TRIGGER, your routine will be going to the gym, and the reward can be anything you want ( Protein bar for example, or just the good feeling of accomplishment ).
Some habits can be more difficult to change than others, and take a longer time, and sometimes require additional experiments and failures, but once you understand how a habit operates, you gain power over it!