Habits are powerful; developed deliberately or otherwise, they shape our lives far more than we realize. Once a pattern is developed, we tend to cling to it without making any conscious effort. Doing things over and over results in us performing them effortlessly which is good for everyday small tasks, like brushing teeth or getting ready for work, however for complex tasks if we let habit loop comes into play, we become blind to our ability to control them. Doing things habitually results in decreased mental activity which mostof the time prohibits realizing our true potential.
If we know how habits function, we can change them; however, to modify a habit, we must deliberately decide to change it. Similarly, if we want to continue practicing something, we can make it a habit. Sometimes, you may have habits affecting you without you realizing it. Learning how to make or break a habit can go a long way.
A good read on how habits function and how to change them is ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg. It helps understand the science of habits and share some quick good tips on changing habits if you are struggling with them. The author talks about the power of habit loop and how to change a certain habit by applying the golden rule of changing the routine while keeping the cue and the reward same. To change a habit, one must understand the cue that triggers a certain behavior, the routine, and the reward. By instilling a different routine to respond to the same cue and get the same reward, results in changing the habit.
To make or break a habit, follow three simple steps:
- Become aware: First step is to become aware of the habit. If you want to change a certain habit, you must become conscious about it and know exactly what you want to change. For example, you cannot change, if you are not aware that you interrupt people when they are talking.
- Separate habit and reward: Do not confuse habit and reward; understand exactly the habit and the reward or satisfaction you get from a certain habit so that you can replace the habit with a new routine to get the same reward.
- Consciously decide to change: To bring about a change you must make conscious efforts. With determination, consistency, and efforts you will be able to change the track you have been following for quite some time now.
When we start playing around with making and breaking habits, we start allowing our brains to test and try new pathways and hence using maximum capacity of our brains rather than just following habitual patterns.
Good luck with changing your not-so-good habits and adopting the good ones!