I like to break everything down into it’s most basic form. This helps in creating new habits or changing old ones.
I read the book “Power of Habit” by Charles Duhig about 10 years ago.
This book teaches you the science behind habits. My biggest takeaway that I utilize everyday is a 3 part habit loop.
Researchers at MIT discovered this neurological loop and concluded that the core of every habit has a cue, a routine and a reward.
Our behavior consists of various neurological loops. This could help explain a lot of our behavior especially when it seems to be on autopilot. We are stuck in our routines, the comfort being the reward.
In order to change a habit, you have to change your behavior. To do this you have to identify what routine you’re in that you want to change. Next you have to figure out what is triggering you to get into the routine you want to change. Once you figure that out, you then have to figure out what is causing you to keep repeating this routine. What "reward" is encouraging you to repeat your habits.
Here is an example of how to identify a habit and how to break it down in order to change it.
Jacob is an overweight man in his mid 40s. He wants to lose weight and has come to the conclusion that he is eating way too much food daily. The "habit" that he wants to change is overeating. The overeating is causing the weight gain. Now lets's use what we know from the habit loop to break this habit down even more.
Jacob realizes that every time he is stressed at work he goes to McDonald's on his way home to buy dessert. Being stressed at work is the "trigger".
When he gets stressed his brain signals for him to eat. Going to McDonald's is his "routine". Eating the desert is the "reward" for his stress because after eating, he feels better.
Now that we were able to break down Jacob's habit into 3 distinctive parts, next is adjusting his habit loop. In order to do this, Jacob must change his routine. The cue and reward will stay the same but his routine has to be replaced with something different. For example, Jacob is once again stressed at work. The stress is the cue for a routine but now instead of going to McDonald's for dessert Jacob decides to stop at the park near his house and goes for a 10 minute walk. After completing his walk, Jacob realizes that he feels better than when he eats dessert.
After switching his routine for a week, Jacob notices that he has lost 3 pounds. He is starting to lose weight and the reason is because he switched his routine. His cue and reward stayed the same but consciously adjusting his routine changed his negative habit.
When you want to change your habits or create new ones try to utilize this 3 step process. Most of our habits are done automatically, taking the time to break them down into simpler terms and organizing our thoughts helps spark change. I know everything is easier said than done but this is a starting point. This is a point of reference that you can use to get your mind working.
I highly suggest reading the book “Power of Habit” by Charles Duhig to get all of the details and research behind habits. After reading this book, I guarantee you will be more efficient in your life. Bad habits don't have to be permanent. If you want to improve, utilize the habit loop...