What is a habit?
A habit is a tendency to do something, whether it is harmful or beneficial to one's health.
A good habit will assist you in achieving your objectives, growing personally and professionally, and experiencing fulfilment. Yet not all routines are beneficial.
Habits are driven by a brain reward-seeking mechanism.
They are frequently triggered by a specific factor. For instance, passing a coffee shop while smelling coffee beans can induce a desire for a cup. Stress at work can prompt you to light up a cigarette.
With time, habits become a routine component of your lifestyle.
Here are some other examples of habits:
Brushing your teeth after eating a meal
Putting on your seatbelt when you get inside a car
Drinking a glass of wine when you get home from work
Eating sugary or salty foods when you're stressed at work
Fidgeting with your notebook during a meeting
Forming habits is the brains way of becoming more efficient. As far as the brain is concerned, the more tasks you can complete without wasting time thinking about them, the better.
And our brain's tendency toward efficiency can be positive.
For instance, drinking a green smoothie every morning benefits and health. And not having to relearn how to drive your car every day means you have reliable transportation.
Of course, this efficiency can also be negative.
For instance, biting your nails every time you have a meeting at work can wreak havoc on your nails. Or not brushing your teeth after eating can lead to tooth decay.
How do habits form?
The process by which behaviours become automatic is habit formation. It could be a deliberate or unintentional process.
Washing became second nature. It was not deliberate; it was the result of extensive repetition.
Yet, replacing your nightly drink of wine with a glass of water is deliberate. Likewise, substituting decaf for caffeinated coffee in the morning is beneficial.
One thing to remember about the process of habit formation is that it does not occur randomly. It is a never-ending feedback loop that is ongoing and active as you are alive. Hence, we reach the habit loop.
What’s the habit loop?
Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” says that at the core of every lasting habit is a psychological pattern called the “Habit loop”
The habit loop includes a four-step pattern that all habits proceed through. The four stages are always the same and in the same order:
Your mind constantly analyses your environment for hints of where rewards are located. The cue is the first sign that you’re close to a reward, like money or love. This step triggers your brain to start a behaviour.
Since the cue means you’re close to a reward, it’ll naturally lead to the second step: the craving.
Cravings are the motivational force behind every habit. They give you a reason to act. However, what you’re craving isn’t the habit itself but rather the change in state you get from it.
You crave a glass of wine because of the relief it brings. You crave wearing your seatbelt because it makes you feel safe.
In the end, cravings stem from a desire to change your internal state.
The response is the habit you perform. It can take the form of a thought or an action. Responding depends on how motivated you are and how challenging it is to perform the behaviour.
For instance, if an action requires more effort than you’re willing to put in, you won’t do it.
The goal of every habit is the reward. The cue notices the reward, the craving wants the reward, and the response obtains the reward.
For instance, let’s say you’re walking around town, and you come across a bakery. The cue would be noticing the bakery. The craving would be wanting a piece of chocolate cake. And the response would be going inside to order and eat a slice of cake.
We chase rewards for two reasons: they satisfy our cravings, and they teach us which actions we should remember in the future.
So how long does it take to develop a habit?
In a 2009 study conducted at University College London, researchers determined that it takes approximately 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
Nonetheless, the choice of routine was a significant factor in how long it took (between 18 and 254 days).
Some behaviours are more difficult to establish than others. Changing from coffee to green tea may be a speedier alternative to quitting caffeine entirely. Yet substituting nicotine with candy may be a slower process than using nicotine patches.
How long it takes to create a habit ultimately depends on your motivation and the amount of work required to perform a behaviour.
How do we build good habits:
Building good habits in your life can help you become more productive, happier, and healthier. Whether you want to start exercising regularly, eat healthier, or learn a new skill, building good habits takes time, effort, and dedication. Here are some tips on how to build good habits in your life.
1. Start small
The key to building good habits is to start small. If you try to make too many changes at once, you are more likely to become overwhelmed and give up. Focus on one habit at a time and start with a small change that is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. For example, if you want to start exercising regularly, start by going for a short walk each day.
2. Set specific goals
Make your habit-building goals clear and specific. Instead of saying, "I want to eat healthier," set a goal of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. When your goals are specific, you will have a clear idea of what you need to do to achieve them.
3. Make a plan
Plan how you will incorporate your new habit into your daily routine. Decide when, where, and how you will practice your new habit. For example, if you want to start meditating each day, decide on a specific time and place to meditate.
4. Track your progress
Keep track of your progress to stay motivated and celebrate your successes. You can use a habit tracker or a journal to track your progress. Seeing your progress can help you stay motivated and remind you of the progress you have made.
5. Stay accountable
Tell someone about your new habit or join a support group. Having someone to hold you accountable can help you stay on track. When you have someone to check in with, you are more likely to stick to your new habit.
6. Be patient
Building good habits takes time, so be patient with yourself. Don't give up if you have a setback or if it takes longer than you expected to see results. Keep working at it, and you will see progress over time.
7. Reward yourself
Reward yourself for sticking to your new habit. This will help reinforce the behaviour and make it more enjoyable. For example, if you have been exercising regularly for a month, treat yourself to a massage or a new piece of workout gear.
Building good habits takes time, effort, and dedication. But with persistence and dedication, you can create new habits that will have a positive impact on your life. Remember to start small, set specific goals, make a plan, track your progress, stay accountable, be patient, and reward yourself. and remember if you have a hiccup along the way don't let that stop you. Good luck on your habit-building journey!