Someone asked me recently, “How can I develop good habits?” My answer: “The same way that you developed that bad habit…by doing the same thing over and over again!”
I’m not big on New Years Resolutions, but the holiday season followed by a new year certainly does give me pause. A book called the Power of Habit (by Charles Duhigg) offers some insights that you might find interesting about the decisions we think we make every day. They are really “habits.” Here are some key summary statements:
- More than 40% of the actions that people perform each day weren’t actually decisions, but habits.
- Habits emerge because the brain is looking for ways to save effort…otherwise we would feel overwhelmed with all these daily decisions!
- Habits aren’t destiny…they can be changed.
- Habits are a three-step loop: a cue (the trigger), the routine, and a reward. Overtime this loop becomes automatic.
- The key to changing a habit is not to try to stop it! The brain is always looking for ways to simplify your life. You’ve got to find a new routine to insert into this loop.
So…how can you use this information? Try these ideas:
- If you head to the vending machine everytime you get tired at your desk (1. tired, 2. hit the vending machine, 3. brief energy) try this loop instead (1. tired, 2. brisk walk around the floor or up a few stairs, 3. more lasting energy).
- If you always have to have dessert after dinner (1.finish dinner, 2. eat dessert, 3. feel satisfied), look for something else to satisfy that craving. You think you need something sweet on your taste buds, but chances are what you’re really looking for something sweet in your life…something that makes you feel good. Why not try this: 1. finish dinner, 2. take a walk with your family, 3. feel good all over!
Don’t like my ideas? Then find some that will work for you. Overtime, these new routines eventually will become your new habits!