Once a particular habit is acquired, it almost works like an automated program that runs on its own. This shows how important habits are and what a profound impact they can have on anyone’s life.
In this blog post, I will tell you everything you need to know about habits; how to get rid of bad habits and make a positive difference in your life by sticking to the good ones.
THE HABIT FORMATION MECHANISM
Habit formation consists of three different parts, according to Charles Duhigg, the author of the book "The Power of Habit".
These 3 parts of habit are; the cue, the response and the reward. These 3 parts together make up the habit loop.
An example of a habit can be when you smell the delicious food cooked in the kitchen. This is the environmental cue. The second part of the loop is a behavioral response, whereby you go out to the kitchen to grab some of that meal for yourself. The third part — the reward; is the taste of the food and the fulfillment you get from eating the food (if you were hungry).
Understanding the habit loop can be extremely critical in realizing how you have acquired your current habits (including the bad ones) and how you can break this loop to form better habits.
HOW TO ELIMINATE BAD HABITS?
GET RID OF ENVIRONMENTAL TRIGGERS
Triggers are the cues that entice you to indulge in habitual behavior. Your job is to identify the things, places, and people that compel you into bad habits.
Once you have successfully identified these culprits, you should work on eliminating them altogether.
For example, the presence of junk food in your pantry might trigger you to eat unhealthy food.
MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO INDULGE IN BAD BEHAVIOR
We often indulge in bad behaviors because they are easier and more accessible than good behavior.
So, here you have to make a deliberate effort to make the bad behaviors more difficult to engage in.
Let’s say you are craving unhealthy food. But you don’t have any of it at your home. This means you have to step out of the comfort of your home to get your hands on some of that food. So, just by a simple act of keeping your house free of unhealthy food, you have made the behavior (of eating unhealthily) difficult for you.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR CRAVINGS
A craving arises when you want to alter your internal state. We crave certain things or activities because we believe they will make us feel better.
To eliminate cravings that lead you to bad habits, you first must identify how you wish to feel. You can then think of some positive action or behavior that will help you reach that feeling.
For example, if you do recreational drugs to escape your feelings and change your mood, you can instead try something like meditation or deep breathing to achieve the same end goal.
HOW TO FORM GOOD HABITS?
DEFINE YOUR GOAL
If you are trying to build a new habit, it means you are trying to achieve your very specific goal. This can be anything from losing weight to being more productive. But there is definitely a goal associated with every habit.
So, in this first step, you must clarify that goal in your mind.
USE THE HABIT LOOP
Next, you have to break your habit into 3 parts that we learned before — the environmental cue, the behavioral response and the reward.
If you are trying to make daily jogging or running your goal, here is how you can devise the habit loop around this goal:
- Cue: Keep your shoes and clothes ready and where you can see them so that the first thought that pops into your head in the morning is of going for a jog.
- Response: When you see your things ready for the jog, you are more likely to respond to the cues and get going for a run outside.
- Reward: Every time you go out for a run, reward yourself with something pleasurable yet healthy. It can be talking to a friend after the run or watching 10 minutes of television.
TRY HABIT STACKING
Habit stacking is when you use your current habits to form new ones. So, you stack your new action/behavior (or tie it up) with something your brain is already accustomed to practicing.
For example, when you get up to grab a glass of water for yourself (which is an action you are already well-attuned to); you can stack 2 mins of walking on top of that. Here you are using your already formed habit of getting up to grab water, as a base for the new habit of moving your body around multiple times a day.Visualize Your Future Self
Connecting with your future self is a powerful way to motivate yourself toward taking positive action each day.
Imagine how would you feel as a person when you would have acquired that healthy habit? What would your life look like?
A good way to help you visualize your future is by using a vision board. A vision board is a visual depiction of your goals through images.
You can use Vision Cloud’s Vision Board Kit to make one for yourself. You will get all the creative supplies (the board, the images, affirmations and stickers) in this kit so that you can direct all your energies on setting up a vision board that accurately showcases your future.
MAKE THE REPETITION FUN
To build a habit, you must engage in related tasks and activities repeatedly. Only through enough repetition will your brain get fully accustomed to the new goal.
However, repeating certain tasks and behaviors can be frustrating at times. After a few repetitions, boredom is likely to kick in. So, make sure to add some fun and excitement to the action.
For example, if you have decided to eat healthy for a month, you can make it more fun and exciting by having a friend as an accountability partner. After a few repetitions, the fun will drive you to engage in that behavior again.