By Mitch Heaslip
“Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making. But they’re not. They’re habits” — Charles Duhigg
The above quote hits hard.
We think we’re in total conscious control of our every action. The truth is, we really aren’t. And that’s a good thing.
If we were, our mind would be so overwhelmed by the routine of every day life that it would shut down.
See, when something becomes habit, our brain sends itself into auto pilot so it can catch a break.
This is why when you walk by the box of donuts in the break room you automatically grab one without thinking about it, or stop at the same Sonic drive through when the kids are hungry and time is short.
There’s no doubt habits are powerful. They dictate what we do, and what we become.
The good news is, if you have a habit you want to break, there’s a simple formula for that.
First, let’s take a look at the habit loop.
Habit Loop- Trigger → Routine → Reward → and repeat.
The trigger is what sparks you to enter automation and repeat your usual routine.
In the case of the donuts in the break room, the trigger might be when it’s break time, or
when you see the box.
There is always a reward for doing said routine as well. If you eat the donuts, the reward is the sweet taste of sugar. This reward solidifies the habit.
Want to break a habit? Figure out what the trigger is. What leads you to do the behavior you want to stop?
Once you recognize that, simply become aware of it. This awareness gives you the opportunity to stop the automation, and make a conscious decision. This is your opportunity to short circuit your old pattern and do something besides eating the donut.
Now, simply stopping a behavior is unlikely. If you take your habit away, you’re left with a void. This void needs to be filled, and eventually, without a replacement, your old habit will creep its way back in.
To avoid this, replace the old habit with a new one. Something that lends itself to your goals and mission.
Finally, in order to solidify this replacement habit, acknowledge the reward, even if it’s less obvious than the rush of sugar to your brain.
That’s it! Sprinkle in some discipline and focus, and you have the formula for breaking a habit.
Habits are what dictates what you do, what you become, and what you accomplish.
Replacing the habits that don’t serve you with the habits that do is what will create the best long term progress.
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