Humans are naturally creatures of habit. What this basically means is that we are subject to various routines and rituals that influence the outcome of our lives.
It has been estimated that about half the activities we perform in a day occur automatically without much thought.
Habits allow us to focus on the more important tasks in our daily lives.
The habits we develop are the building blocks that enforce our personality and lifestyle.
Without habits it would be difficult to get a lot done during the day.
By developing habits the brain conserves energy for projects that require more thought and engagement.
Because the brain is the most efficient processor on the planet, it often outsources some of the tasks to our environment, making micro-decisions without putting in much thought.
Would it not be great if you could take back control over what you do with half of your life?
To be fully effective, it is important to understand how much your habits drive you. Habits are quite important, they serve as an essential foundation for your level of productivity.
When a person displays tough levels of self-discipline it is because they have carefully cultivated a collection of strong habits over time.
Since a lot of our daily activities are performed in automation, the idea of free will is a backward-facing rationalization designed to protect our ego and retrofit a messy reality into a cleaner narrative.
Free will is only achieved when you take control through self-discipline.
When you choose to do nothing you accumulate behavioral debt, leaving a pile of habits unexamined and the end result is usually mediocrity.
Habits are formed through associative learning. In the acquisition of new habits, reinforcement is viewed as the primary action, while associative learning complements the action through the maintenance of behavior.
Habits are learned or modified based on stimulus and response.
This can be anything in our internal or external environment. Habits are particularly powerful because of the neurological cravings they create.
The brain releases “pleasure” chemicals as a reward for certain behavior.
Habits work through a loop that involves three points of leverage that can be used to strengthen or create behavior.
They also help understand how habits work and can be controlled. These three points are:
- Triggers are environmental details that influence a certain response. These set the habit loop in motion by sending the brain into autopilot.
- Routines are the actual actions exhibited. Routines are procedures performed in reaction to thought.
- Reward is Value obtained by reinforcing that habit thereby causing our brain to strengthen the associated link between triggers and routines.
How To Make Habits Stick
It might seem overwhelming that you have to reconfigure your routines but it does not have to be.
With gradual doses of discipline you can create new habits that require little effort to maintain thereby becoming a permanent part of your life. Here is how:
If you want to make a habit stick, you have to do it quite often.
Activities you do only a few times in a week would be hard to lock in. But if you do them on a daily basis for at least thirty days then there is a higher chance of turning them into habits.
2.Take It Step-By-Step
You do not have to make huge changes overnight.
It is easy to get over motivated and take on more than you can handle, but taking micro actions is more manageable and effective in the long run.
Start with small, consistent steps and build on it.
3.Have A Reminder
You could get distracted or feel less committed once you have been at it for a while.
Remind yourself of why you wanted to get into it in the first place.
Also set a reminder so you can execute the habit on a daily basis. Missing a few days defeats the purpose of setting a habit.
4.Develop A Trigger
A trigger is an action you take right before you execute your habit.
Whatever habit you intend to develop, adding a trigger reinforces the connection and also serves as a reminder.
You might not be successful on the first try but that should not discourage you from trying.
Trying to change habits can be tricky as habits do not form overnight, but do not let a lack of success discourage you.
Stay consistent even in imperfections.
6.Find A Partner
It is possible to feel discouraged or suffer a severe lack of motivation without the right push or support.
This is why you need a partner or a coach. This way you are responsible to someone and you also have a checkmate to keep you from falling.
Having someone to go along with also helps keep you motivated.
7.Put Away Temptations
With the drive to acquire new habits, it is important to restructure your surroundings and remove any items that might make you not do what you ought to do or make you do what you do not want to do anymore.
Dispose or hide those properties that might make you struggle with will power especially within the first thirty days into your new habit.
8.Try It Out As An Experiment
Observe your behavior for a month while holding back judgement.
This gives you a chance to tweak and achieve different results.
A different result would give you an opportunity to see that habit from different angles.
9.Understand The Process
Familiarize yourself with the challenges and rewards of the habit you want to acquire.
Understand that the journey might be awkward or even painful.
Prepare mentally while you expose yourself to realistic information.
This will help you build the right kind of motivation.
10.Focus On Eliminating Bad Habits
Rather than worrying about all the habits you would like to develop, take action towards making the bad habit change.
Let your goals serve as a source of motivation and guide towards achieving the new habits, rather than making empty resolutions without any guide to achieving.
It is difficult to have your brain automatically differentiate between good and bad habits, so it is up to you to consciously do that.
Decide those routines you would like to have and use the habit loop to your advantage.Although they do not come on a platter, all habits can be ignored, changed or replaced.