I’m a big believer in all things habits. I believe in identifying them, understanding them and accepting or rejecting them as a daily part of my life. Why? Because at any given moment, your current habits are dictating your future life.
What’s behind a habit?
Did you know that habits are a way your brain is attempting to save effort in your day to day? Without even realizing it, your brain is constantly looking for things you do to turn into habits. Often times we have habits we don’t even realize until we sit back and examine our routines.
The power of habit
It’s funny when you think about it, people often say one thing about their goals and future life and then practice habits that go completely against those goals.
Believe it or not, there is so much more that goes into forming a habit. It’s an actual psychological pattern that’s named a habit loop. These loops are a three-part process from the start of a habit to finish.
Here’s what happens:
- A trigger occurs that signals your brain to basically go on autopilot and carry out a behavior.
- Next comes the routine part, which is the behavior itself.
- Lastly you are rewarded! The habit sends a positive signal to your brain helps reinforce it in the future.
When habits can cause trouble
If we’re not careful, bad habits can be built over time, and yes we all have them!
The way this happens is when you are triggered by something. It’s staring you in the face and you have a choice as to how you will handle it. Everyone has triggers and is faced with having to make a decision every day. Sometimes as small as “I’m hungry, should I eat now or just finish my work first?”
In my personal experience, one of my bad habits (and there are plenty, I’m sure), is to wait too long to eat because I’m in go mode. I’m the type of person that needs to eat every few hours and if I don’t I become a hangry beast. I also feel shaky which triggers anxiety.
It’s a vicious cycle but I have a hard time interrupting the work I’m doing because I get in the zone when I’m in go mode and don’t want to break the focus.
So then of course I find myself hungry, irritated and making poor decisions over what I should eat, rather than planning ahead and avoiding it altogether!
Examples of bad habits that can get out of control:
- Attempting to live within a budget but going over every month
- Saying you’ll move your body tomorrow because you’re too busy today
- Avoiding conflict (it will just grow)
- Pushing things off to the next day
How to break bad habits
Let’s just call it like it is, breaking bad habits is hard…and annoying. The good news is, it is possible to break them at any time.
To change a habit we have to first understand its structure — the three part loop we talked about above. Once you recognize your triggers, you are better equipping yourself to break the habit because you understand the cycle that’s about to take place.
When you are faced with a trigger, pause and review your previous decisions that led to the habit and choose a different route. Practice the change until you find something that works for you, just remember to pause and not immediately react.
How to form good habits
For me, knowing that I can completely avoid a hangry shutdown and shakiness motivates me to not practice skipping or delaying my every two hour eating routine. Recognizing this alone was helpful in creating a plan to kick this bad habit.
Working hard in go mode is rewarding but properly taking care of mind and body by not going into shutdown mode is more important. I recognized my quality of work went down if I didn’t pause to eat a little snack or meal. By changing my approach and turning it into a good habit, I’ve experienced many other positive habits as well.
Some positive habits I’ve formed are:
- Drinking plenty of water every day
- Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise even if it just means walking around the block
- Scheduling out my day the night before
- Waking up an hour earlier for quiet time
Was this helpful to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on habits – good or bad!
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