Time to break up with bad habits?
Written on the 3 September 2020 by Arrow
We all have bad habits, and they can be many and varied. They can be as big as poor time management which can impact your productivity, or as small as nail biting which drives your loved ones crazy! You might self-sabotage, such as tucking into that tub of ice-cream even if you've vowed to eat better or checking your phone during face-to-face conversations which can cause hurt feelings.
It's of course unrealistic to be perfect, but you can part company with the habits which are not having a positive impact on your life.
How habits are formed
A bad habit for one person isn't necessarily a bad habit for someone else. Having a glass or two during wine o'clock might be problematic for someone, but a welcome treat for another.
Why habits are hard to break
As the common failure of our New Year's resolutions show, it's hard to break habits and/or form new ones. Fortunately there has been significant research into how habits are formed, which can help when it comes to breaking our less desired habits.
Leveraging the habit loop
Appreciating how habits are formed and maintained will enable you to consciously adjust your behaviour, intercepting the habit loop and making your desired behaviours finally stick.
Firstly, create an environment that reminds and encourages you to take action. This could be having your clothes set out for your early morning workout, or scheduling time and moving to a separate space to allow for deep thinking work.
Next identify your current external and your internal cues that trigger your behaviour and set up a process for more productive response, removing any barriers to your success. Are you prone to the 3pm afternoon slump? Take a walk or have some healthy snacks at hand to save you from that sugary snack.
Creating a positive feedback loop for success
While not all habits have a natural inbuilt reward system, you can create a positive feedback loop to stimulate your brain and embed a new habit, particularly when you are just getting started. For example, studies have shown that a small amount of dark chocolate after a workout can stimulate the same chemicals that will eventually be released by the workout itself.iii Creating an immediate reward to spur you on.
...and pace yourself