Changing your habits is the penultimate route to success.
If you’re not convinced why you must change your habits, click here.
I’ve done tons of research on this particular topic and my favorite method is one prescribed by Charles Duhigg in his book, “The Power Of Habit”.
So Charles mentions that every habit loop consists of three elements namely:
- A cue
- A routine
- A reward
A cue is anything that triggers that urge in you to carry out a specific habit.
The routine is the habit itself.
The reward is a psychological feeling associated with the completion of the routine. The reward is what tells the brain that a particular habit loop is worth remembering.
How The Habit Loop Fitted Into My Life
I’m a huge table tennis fan, and there was this one point in my life when I would play ping pong anytime anywhere. I mean it’s alright to have a passion for sport. There are times when I would stay up all night playing ping pong. It affected my productivity and sleep patterns. I knew that this was a bad habit (as it deteriorated the health pillar of my life).
Click here to find out if your habits are gambits or bandits.
Now the cue of my habit was simple: just walking past the ping pong table. Every time I walk past the table, I get an uncontrollable urge to pick my racket up and start playing with anyone.
To generalize, a cue is anything that you see, think, feel or hear prior to having an urge to carry out the routine. Now my cue was seeing the table.
Now the reward is the feeling you experience upon carrying out the routine.
After I’m done playing, I feel exhausted and kinda peaceful as I can sleep much faster than not playing in the first place.
Finding out what reward is being provided by your habit can be a tricky thing to do. A simple way to discover the reward you crave is to resist the urge to indulge in your routine. You might feel restless or irritated; hence your reward is an antidote to all that.
Note that different habits have various rewards.
So that’s how habits work. I cited the table tennis example to show how the habit loop worked.
Here’s How You Can Design Your Own Habits
An interesting feature of the habit loop is that the craving for your reward is what makes you want to carry out the routine.
I mean once you get habituated to something, only a subjection to your cue is enough to put yourself in the mental state to complete your routine.
Make sure to select a unique and simple cue. Cues are an integral part of the habit loop, so pick an appropriate cue. Write out a crunch statement so as to remind you of what you must do.
I call this a crunch statement as this tells you exactly what you need to do, how and when.
“When the alarm goes off, (CUE), I work out for an hour (ROUTINE), and get a smoothie (REWARD).”
For example, let’s say you want to develop a habit of running every evening at 5. Your cue could an alarm or a reminder on your phone. The routine is the work you put into jogging or hiking.
This is where it gets interesting. You can choose anything you enjoy doing as your reward. If you love smoothies, reward yourself a smoothie every time you complete your planned workout.
Some Points to Remember
When you are just setting out to form your new habit, keep thinking about the rewards (smoothie in this case). Visualise its coldness or the crunchiness of the chocolate.
Imagine how your smoothie tastes. As a result, you have a genuine craving that you can satisfy only by running.
You’re essentially telling your mind that if you want that scrumptious drink, you must run.
After a couple of iterations of the habit loop, as soon as the alarm goes off, you will find it easier to start your workout. Therefore, you’re getting habituated.
You must be cautious to not have smoothies on any other occasion. This is a unique reward for your unique habit, and having smoothies for any other reason will destroy the need for your brain to habitualize working out.
Using this HABIT-ROUTINE-REWARD formula, you can develop any habit you want, from becoming a better speaker to maintaining eye contact to anything.
Over time, you will become an expert in manipulating your rewards to match specific cues thus enabling to do whatever you want.
Consequently, you can achieve amazing things in life if you harness the power of habit formation.
There are other methods of habit formation, but I found this one to be the most retentive and easy.
I ended a three-year porn addiction as a result of the stuff I learnt about habits. Click here to read about my journey.
Do reach out to me; I’d love to hear from y’all 🙂