Do you have good or bad habits?
If you instinctively reach for a cigarette the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a bad habit. By the same token, if you feel inclined to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets as soon as you get home, you’ve acquired a good habit.
The process to form habits
Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.
This process within our brains is a three-step loop, says Charles Duhigg.
- First there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
- Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.
- Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.
By learning to observe the cues and rewards, though, we can change the routines.
[Related Reading: Why we do what we do in life and business]
Are you aware of the habits you have acquired?
- Time-management habits: What are your goals? Do you procrastinate? Do you multitask? Make lists, prioritize the actions on those lists, and tackle the most important items.
- Decision-making habits: Do you check sources before making a decision? Do you read? Do you introspect yourself? Be open-minded, be curious, ask the tough questions and always push to know more.
- Thought habits: What kind of thoughts do you have? Do you overthink? Are you addicted to your comfort zone? Remember that negative thoughts create negative events. Positive thoughts create positive results.
- Health habits: Do you sleep well? Do you exercise regularly? Do you eat junk food?
- Relationship habits: What kind of people are you hanging out? Do they live on purpose? Do they elevate your soul?
- Work habits: Are you efficient and organized? Do you have initiative? Do you educate yourself?
- Financial habits: Do you often check your balances? Do you set up your savings automatic transfer? Do you overspend with credit?
Think of the behaviors that can make the biggest positives changes in your life. Then, decide to make them an habit.
Do it. It’s non-negotiable.
Form new good habits
When you choose a new habit to track, consider these three aspects:
1. Motivation. Choose a habit you care about doing regularly. Don’t worry about whether other people think it’s important. For instance, don’t try to exercise every day because you think you should.
2. Regularity. The more often you do your habit, the stronger it will become. Each repetition enforces it as a behavior and strengthens the pathways in your brain related to it. Eventually, all that repetition makes the behavior automatic, something you do without thinking about it, which is when we call it a habit.
3. Achievability. If you aim to run 5km every day after not exercising for the past two years, you probably won’t keep that up for long. To keep on track with your new habit you need to choose something achievable so you’ll always feel that if you make the effort you can do it.
Work on one habit at a time.
[ Related Reading: The 7 habits of highly effective people]