‘Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.’ Sean Covey.
Habits are what we repeatedly do in our daily life, without much effort and thinking. They are automatic functions of our body adapts to perform. Our brain goes into an autopilot mode, with our repeated actions and behaviour. According to research studies, the brain is constantly looking for ways to save its effort, therefore the brain tries to convert the repeated works to habit. Habits, therefore, get wired in our brains, and we almost unconsciously perform those on a daily basis.
According to Charles Duhigg, as he mentions in his phenomenal book ‘The Power of Habit’, a certain part of the brain named, basal ganglia plays the crucial and ultimate role in sustaining and maintaining our automatic functions. Basal ganglia can also be called as our memory cards for old habits.
Duhigg mentioned that habits follow a three-step process i.e Cue ( or we can say the reminder) the automatic trigger that rises in the brain, Routine, which is either physical, mental or emotional, and the Reward, the accomplishment. For eg, a ringing of our phone acts as the reminder (cue) of our behaviour of picking it up, which is the routine ( i.e whenever the phone rings, it’s our routine to pick it up), and when we find out who is calling, it forms the reward of the routine. Similarly, the hunger in the stomach is the reminder, the food we eat because we are hungry forms the routine, and the enjoyment we receive after the food is taken, forms the reward. So, in our daily activities, if the reward is positive, then the cycle forms a positive feedback loop, of reminder-routine-reward, and a habit gets formed.
We have to play with one of the elements of this cycle of habit, to change to a better one. Choosing a better reminder, that triggers our behaviour actually forms the base of habit change. A good and effective reminder helps to get into a new habit. But, it is equally true that it is far more difficult in practice than theory.
Habits have a strong say on our overall productivity of life. Making sure that we are doing the right things, in the right way, in the right timeframe, determines the effectiveness of not only our work life but also personal life. Duhigg also mentions that habits aren’t destiny. They can be ignored, changed or replaced. Once a habit is formed, our brain stops any sort of active participation. So to change or replace a habit, one has to consciously fight, and break the former pattern, to install a new one. ‘ You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine’ John Maxwell.
Now adopt these primary 4 steps to leave behind your adamant old habits;
Take baby steps
Start small in the beginning. Don’t go for a bigger leap, and don’t keep unrealistic expectations. For eg, if you have been wanting to rise early in the morning, first try to get up half an hour early than your usual time. Leo Babauta, “make it so easy that you can’t say no.”Avoid excuses and stop procrastination. It is here and when your will power will be tested.
Reward yourself for in every move towards something better. Congratulate your mind. Applause your initiative. Don’t judge and compare yourself with others. Feel the small difference of change within you. Feed your mind and brain with positive self-talk.
Motivate yourself by learning more good things about the habit you like to change, eg, read more about the benefits of early rising, or how people got benefitted in their lives by being early risers. Programme your mind with inspiring thoughts, and polish your will power. Believe in what you are doing and imagine the better-changed life you are aspiring to have.
Get a partner:
Yes sometimes to change something internally, you need to get external support. It is not at all a matter of shyness, in fact, group involvement makes you reach your goal easier and faster. Make someone your partner, one who can pull or push you in times. Motivate and complement each other at times.
This is my 9th post for alphabet ‘I’, for the ongoing #blogchatter challenge, 2019.