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Want to Break a Bad Habit? Science Says Do These 4 Things

Explore Alternatives

Once you have a clear breakdown of what's happening at each stage of your habit loop, brainstorm healthier routines that will produce the results you want.

Create a list of options of alternatives that might provide comparable reward to the one you are trying to eliminate. Focus on new routines that will help you decompress after a stressful day (the cue) and leave you in a positive frame of mind to get freelance work done (reward).

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Want to Break a Bad Habit? Science Says Do These 4 Things

Want to Break a Bad Habit? Science Says Do These 4 Things

https://www.inc.com/melody-wilding/psychology-says-this-is-how-you-change-a-bad-habit-for-good.html

inc.com

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Key Ideas

Anticipate Setbacks

Behavior change is hard. Slip-ups are common, so when they happen, don't beat yourself up or retreat into negative self-talk. Instead, anticipate your failures and plan for them.

Commit To Change And Tweak as You Go

Make achievable commitments to test new routines and approach it as a series of experiments.

Try your new routine for a while and tweak it or switch to a new one if it doesn’t suit you.

Explore Alternatives

Once you have a clear breakdown of what's happening at each stage of your habit loop, brainstorm healthier routines that will produce the results you want.

Create a list of options of alternatives that might provide comparable reward to the one you are trying to eliminate. Focus on new routines that will help you decompress after a stressful day (the cue) and leave you in a positive frame of mind to get freelance work done (reward).

Identify The Stages

First identify the cue, routine, and reward that lead to your habit. Look at the circumstances surrounding the behavior including the time of day, who you're with, and what emotions you're feeling.

The Psychology Of Bad Habits

Habits are comprised of cue, routine and reward. The cue triggers a routine, and the routine generates a reward.

The habit loop is powerful and hardwired into our psyches, which explains why it is so hard to shake. We actually never break bad habits, but replace them with more positive alternatives.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Habit Loop
The Habit Loop

The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue.

Together, these fo...

5 primary ways that a new habit can be triggered
  • Cue 1: Time - Most common way to trigger a new habit
  • Cue 2: Location - Most powerful driver of mindless habits and also the least recognized
  • Cue 3: Preceding Event - Many habits are a response to something else that happens in your life
  • Cue 4: Emotional State - emotional state is a common cue for bad habits
  • Cue 5: Other People - people you surround yourself with can play a role in your habits and behaviors.
Set Better Goals

Be specific on how you’ll implement goals into your daily life. Examining how you’ve responded to the situation in the past and determining what you can do to avoid reverting to the old h...

Have a Better Reason For Quitting

Even if you replace a “bad” habit with a better one, sometimes the original vice will have a stronger biological “reward” than its substitute. This is where the importance of having an intrinsic motivation comes into play.

If that is the case, find as many benefits to the change as you can and try to use them as extra motivation.

Replace a Bad Habit With a Good One

The more you suppress your thoughts, the more likely you are to think about that thought or even revert back to that bad habit. Instead of trying to stop doing something,  it’s easier to do something else.

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Chunking - The Root of Habits

The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine is known as ‘chunking,’ and it’s at the root of how habits form.

Habits emerge...

...because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. 

It will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage. 

The 3 Step Loop of Habit Formation:
  • First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
  • Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.
  • Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

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Willpower is Limited

Though companies like Nike try to ignite our willpower with their slogans, ultimately willpower cannot squash our subconscious and unconscious behavior.

Repetition of action and thought can m...

Knowledge is not Enough
Just merely knowing something is good or bad for you is not going to give you any benefit, unless the implementation is done. Conscious knowledge cannot change your behavior, one has to make necessary changes to successfully act in self-control.

If you know that you will eat junk food because your refrigerator is filled with it, remove all the junk food.

Friction

Just as removing friction aids in doing the activity more often, adding friction can aid to remove the bad habit, by making it difficult or cumbersome to do so.

Example: Cigarette smoking declined due to adding taxes, banning in public places and removing from vending machines.

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Forming good habits

Habits are little chunks of auto-pilot behavior that get burned permanently into your mind. Once you develop a habit, you can never really delete it.

Habits start with a trigger, which se...

Find the trigger point of your habit

Describe your own behavior in detail, and search for clues you might have missed before. Find your trigger.
If you have a habit of making coffee, it might be triggered by entering the kitchen. Some people eat in response to boredom or buy stuff in response to their desires.

Trick yourself

Take an existing cue you have, but trick yourself into triggering a different behavior.
If you want to quit coffee, you could give away the coffee machine and put a box of tea or a glass of water on the countertop.

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Rewards Are The End Goal Of Habits

Your cue leads to your craving, which leads to a response, that leads to your reward.

These rewards can take any form, and as your habit gets more ingrained you develop a craving for the rewa...

Focus On Writing

Writers ought to have only one response to their cues and cravings: writing!

Being a writer requires diverse activities, like promoting your list or pitching agents, but writing is still the most important of all.

Cravings Drive Every Habit

Ask yourself what change of state are you seeking from writing. What you crave is not the habit itself but a change, which for a writer is often the sense of accomplishment from being a writer working toward a long-sought-after goal. 

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Struggling To Build Healthy Habits
  • We tend to bite off more than we can chew, go too fast too soon, and then get overwhelmed too quickly.
  • We’re conditioned these days to expect and receive instant gratification.
Your “Big Why”

As you’re determining the habits or resolutions you’re trying to set, make the habit part of a bigger cause that’s worth the struggle.

You’re not just going to the gym, you’re building a new body that you’re not ashamed of so you can start dating again.

Healthy Habit Building 101

There are 3 parts to a good or bad habit: Cue (what triggers the action), Routine (the action itself), Reward (the positive result because of the action).

You have trained your brain to take a cue (you see a doughnut), anticipate a reward (a sugar high), and make the behavior automatic (nom that donut). 

Compare that to a cue (you see your running shoes), anticipate a reward (a runner’s high), and make the behavior automatic (go for a run!).

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