Creating and sustaining new habits can be difficult. Let's look into the anatomy of a habit and some strategies to create new behaviors.
Anatomy of a Habit
A habit is more than just a repetitive behavior, but rather a construction of three sequential components that make up the habit loop: the cue, the behavior, and the reward.
Cue: an environmental or internal trigger that provokes us to learn a behavior. An example of an environmental trigger is placing a foam roller next to your shoes, which triggers you to do self-massage prior to running.
Behavior: the actual routine we commonly associate with the habit.
Reward: makes the behavior stick. The "high" runners feel after a 6-mile run is enough to make them want to repeat the experience.
Establishing New Habits
1. Establish goals and milestones: Habit formation varies greatly from person to person and can take as long as 66 days. It's a long process that requires consistent implementation. If you have an ambitious goal like losing 60 pounds, it's important to divide it into smaller, less daunting and more realistic outcomes.
2. Identify motivational factors: Intrinsic motivation involves doing an activity for the inherent satisfaction rather than for a separable consequence. For example, losing weight for long term health outcomes rather than an upcoming wedding. Focusing on your intrinsic motivation tends to lead to results which last longer.
3. Pick a goal-oriented behavior: While it might seem appealing to make a lot of changes at once, focusing on one habit at a time may lead to greater success.
4. Create the cue and reward: Once you've selected a behavior, choose a cue that will trigger it. For example, if you opt to drink 2 cups of water before every meal, consider setting a reminder alarm or keeping a water bottle next to the computer screen. Then select a reward to reinforce the behavior.
5. Eliminate disruptors: If you can identify disruptors, you can overcome pitfalls before they occur. For example, if not having water readily available disrupts the behavior of drinking 2 cups before every meal, purchase a water bottle that's easy to fill and transport.
6. Follow up: Hold yourself accountable to the new behavior.
--The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg
Have you had success with creating new habits? What strategies worked for you?