Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

How You Can Have Successful Habits in 3 Easy steps!

We all have habits. Both good and bad. And, we all want to improve on the bad ones, don’t we?

Well, today. I’m going to be sharing with you a simple method of noticing your bad habits and then transforming them into successful ones.

Understanding the habit loop

The definition of a habit is:

A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

But what makes a habit tick? If we want to make habits and change old ones, then we need to understand what keeps them beating.

There are three sections to a habit. Three areas that makeup what is called a ‘habit loop’. These sections are Cue, Routine and Reward.

Example of a habit loop from the book ‘The power of habit’ by Charles Duhigg

Cue
A cue is something triggers the routine section of the habit loop. A cue could be something like seeing a packet of cigarettes, seeing chocolate or in a better case, getting home from work (I’ll explain in a bit).

But essentially, the cue is a trigger. The original stimulus that causes the following actions take place.

The cue is the building blocks of building a new habit, but it’s not what we change when we are trying to change an old habit. That’s the routine.

Routine
The routine is the part of the habit loop where the actions take place. It could be smoking the cigarette, eating the chocolate or going for a run. All the actions, no matter whether right or wrong are involved in the routine section of the habit loop. The routine is the section we will change when it comes to improving habits.

The reason why the routine is so powerful is that it links the cue to the reward. Without the routine, we would have a lot of urges and rewards and feelings but with nothing combining them.

Reward
The best part of the habit comes at the end. The reward comes in many different forms; it could be: the buzz from the nicotine in the cigarette or the serotonin released in the brain from eating chocolate or the endorphins released from going on a run.

No matter what the cue and the routine is. The bit that keeps the lope going round and us going back for more is the reward. After all, why would you keep doing something if you didn’t get anything out of it? If we got no reward, then we soon grow tired, get bored and move onto something else.


So, those are the three areas of a habit loop, and now we understand them, we can start to change our old bad routines and make good, successful ones from them.

Using the habit loop to improve ourselves

For the sake of example, let’s say we want to quit our habit of smoking. We could try using nicotine patches and other products designed by industries. I’m going to ignore them as they don’t fix the problem and when taken away there is a good chance an individual would go back to smoking.

Instead, let’s take a good look at the habit and break it down using cue, routine and reward.

Cue
The cue involved in the habit of smoking is the craving. The craving created by smoking for so long that your body has begun to demand it from you. A cue could also come from seeing someone else smoking leading you to be social and smoke with them. There’s plenty of cues that could lead to the routine which is…

Routine
The routine here is obvious; it’s the smoking. It’s the action we are trying to stop as it’s doing us damage. However, the routine of smoking is the action which gets us the reward from the next step of the habit loop which is…

Reward
After smoking, there are a few rewards we stand to gain. Most notably it is the buzz from the nicotine which also insistently is the drug which keeps you coming back. The drug is so powerful; it creates this buzz that people begin to crave again and again.

But also, smoking allows people to be social. There’s plenty of people in the world who admit to being a ‘social smoker’.

The Plan
What we need to do is find a new routine which provides the same rewards as smoking and uses the same cues to promote the routine taking place.

What we are attempting to do is take the old habit and remove the bad part and replace it with something better. Therefore killing the old habit and making a better one. That’s the secret to quitting bad habits.

The solution
Replace the smoking with something like coffee. Coffee offers the opportunity to fill your drug addiction, but instead of nicotine, we are using caffeine. Caffeine also gives the drinker a buzz like nicotine, but the best part is caffeine is not as addictive as nicotine making it easier to quit in the future if you so desire.

And, what does caffeine also allow us to be? Social. We can hang out with friends and have our coffees together. A whole industry is built off socialising with coffee.

Replacing the old routine with a new one of drinking coffee, we keep the cues and the rewards the same but remove the damaging properties of the routine. Our habit is intact, and we don’t get withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms occur when the reward has been taken away, therefore, making the cues stronger.

Conclusion

Following the steps and information, I've just given you. You should be able to change any of your old habits and even build new ones. Just make a cue for a routine and reward yourself. Simple!


Call to action

What habits will you be improving? What habits do you want to create? Tell me down below or over on twitter. Also, if you like this article and want to help others, then please consider sharing and clapping the article for others to see.

If you are interested in reading more about habits and the physocology behind them, then I highly recommend you check out the book ‘The power of habit’ by Charles Duhigg. Buy it here on Amazon.

If you want to get my latest articles and updates straight to your inbox, then please consider signing up to my newsletter down below. :)

Thank you for reading, I hope you found this article helpful.


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