Habits

How To Transform Your Life by Changing Habits

A habit is a behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.

We are creatures of habit, they determine our behavior and its consequences. Everyone has some bad and good habits, for example:

Bad: Overeating while watching movies. The consequence of this is obesity.

Good: We brush our teeth when we wake up. The result is good dental health.

The key to changing ourselves is to change our habits, one at a time. With time and effort, any habit can be reshaped and re-formed, and one of the rewards is a new body in the long term.

To start a change, choose the bad one with the biggest impact on your life.

WARNING: PRACTICE ONLY ONE HABIT AT A TIME. ATTEMPTING TO CHANGE MORE THAN ONE WILL DESTROY YOUR WILLPOWER AND LEAD YOU TO FAILURE.


Every habit is a loop of 3 components: Trigger, routine and reward

To understand your habits, you need to identify the components of your loop:

1) ROUTINE – it is the behavior you want to change. An example would be opening a bag of crisps after coming home from work and then lying comfortably watching TV. So that’s what you put in the loop.

2) TRIGGER– is it stress? Low blood sugar? Boredom?

3) REWARD– Is it the food itself? Is it relaxation? Is it a party?


Experimenting with rewards

Rewards satisfy our cravings. To recognize what reward you are actually getting from your habit, experiment with different rewards. During this period, you shouldn’t feel any pressure to make a real change — think of yourself as a scientist in the data collection phase.


•1. day, choose a routine that brings a different form of reward. For example, instead of opening a bag of chips when you get home from work, try replacing the chips with healthy food like a salad for your meal.

•2. day, you can take a hot shower as soon as you get home.

•3. day, you can invite a friend to hang out or talk, maybe socialization is the answer.


The point is to find out what cravings are driving your routine, is entertainment what you crave while snacking and watching a movie? Or are chips cracking under your teeth giving you stress relief? Or you want to relax and in that case, a hot shower might do the trick.

If a regular meal is not satisfying, hunger is not a problem. But if you’re feeling good after a phone call or going out with a friend, then a party could be the reward you’re craving.


Find out the trigger

Most triggers fall into these 5 categories:

  1. Time
  2. Location
  3. Emotional state
  4. Other people
  5. The immediately preceding event

To identify the trigger for the “Opening a Bag of Chips” habit, write down 5 facts about the moment the urge arises, for example:

1 DAY

-Where are you? At home

-What time is it? 19:30

-What is your emotional state? Tense

-Who else is around? No one

-What event precedes the drive? Entered the home

DAY 2

-Where are you? At home

-What time is it? 19:55

-What is your emotional state? Tired

-Who else is around? My roommate

-What event precedes the drive? Entered the home

DAY 3

-Where are you? At home

-What time is it? 19:40

-What is your emotional state? Excited

-Who else is around? Partner

-What event precedes the drive? I sat down to watch a movie with my partner


It is clear that the habit starts at home at a certain time of the day (from 19:30 to 20:00), and in the previous step, we concluded that entertainment is a reward. Then we describe the habit: I come home from work around 7:30–8 p.m. (Trigger), and I look for entertainment (Reward).


Make a plan

Once you understand the habit loop, change the behavior (routine). The trigger and reward you crave will always remain the same, but the routine can be improved so that it does not adversely affect your well-being.

In order to successfully change a behavior (routine), we need a plan. It might sound like this: “Whenever I get home after work, I’ll call a friend or go out to have fun.”

You can set an alarm as a reminder for a new behavior. After a few weeks, you end up not thinking about the routine anymore. It usually takes about 21 days to form a new habit, but some habits take longer.


Forming new habits

Let’s say you want to build a “workout 3 times a week” habit.

You can set an alarm 3 days a week as a TRIGGER, your routine will be going to the gym, and the reward can be anything you want (for example, a protein bar or just a good feeling of accomplishment).


Some habits can be harder to change than others, take longer, and sometimes require extra experimentation and failure, but once you understand how a habit works, you gain power over it!

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