According to the website, The Positive Psychology People
Habits are rituals and behaviors that we perform automatically, allowing us to carry out essential activities such as brushing our teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed for work, and following the same routes every day without thinking about them. Our unconscious habits free up resources for our brains to carry out other more complex tasks like solving problems or deciding what to make for dinner.
In short, they are a part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not. Building solid habits is something I work on with all my coaching clients as they are a foundation of my life and success.
Recently I was interviewed by two different journalists to provide my thoughts on various questions related to habits as it’s a hot topic at the beginning of each year due to New Year’s resolutions. The questions and responses are all listed below for your reference as I know they can help you too. 😊
What are your best tips on how to break bad habits?
- Figure out what is at the heart of the habit- Many habits are seeded in an underlying behavior. i.e., Do you crave potato chips, or is it just the crunching sensation.
- Install a better new habit in its place- A large part of breaking a habit is tricking your mind into thinking it hasn’t disappeared. When you replace it, your brain still gets the part of the pleasure. i.e., crunch carrot or celery sticks.
What are you best tips on how to establish better habits
- Try the method that has worked for you in the past- Either go cold-turkey if you need to have it out of your life (think alcohol) or wean yourself off slowly if the environment makes it difficult to quit (think dessert every night). Just don’t go back and forth, or you will fail!
- Make the habit work to your advantage- If you have determined that your habit is actually due to the underlying behavior, then use the behavior to form a more useful habit. i.e., You realize that you really enjoy the quiet time you get when you go outside to smoke. Turn this into 5 minutes of meditation or stillness.
What is a habit streak?
This is typically something that you do regularly without fail. It is most often done each day or multiple times per day, but that is not always the case. As long as it is done regularly with long-term consistency, then it can be considered a streak. An example would be an individual working out each weekday morning. Whether they don’t work out on weekends is not essential as long as they maintain the weekday routine’s regularity. Brushing your teeth is an example of a habit streak that most people don’t even think of but do multiple times per day.
What are the benefits of a habit streak?
The significant benefit is the habit’s auto-pilot nature, meaning it doesn’t require a lot of thought. Approximately 95% of what we do daily as human beings is done via habits. We get a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, drive to work all via habits. Our brains simply could not take the exertion of energy needed to maintain everything via thought. Habits are essential for our health.
How do you maintain a habit streak?
Taking the obvious daily examples above out of the equation, the big focus for most habits needs to be on consistency. You must put the necessary work into getting started and continue. According to British research, this will become easier after about three weeks and become formed entirely after 66 days. Tracking is another must to help motivate your brain and trigger our internal reward system. Let’s say you received a Fit Bit for Christmas and are trying to maintain a habit of 10k steps per day. If you stay consistent and track your efforts with the watch, you will create a solid habit in just over two months to the point that you won’t need to look at your watch to know whether you have gotten in your steps or not.
Pros of habit streak? Cons of a habit streak?
Any habit has the potential to be good or bad. Some are obvious. A pattern of nightly drinking at a bar till 2 am is probably not the best for most. The main thing is determining where your self, your health, and your individual goals are. Take whatever habit you are looking to form and weight out the benefits. If 7 out of 10 people agree it is beneficial, you are probably on the right track. You should be able to tell pretty quickly using that simple trick. The above example of walking 10k steps is a healthy one for the average person. If someone works 12 hours per day at a desk, it would obviously benefit their health. If they come home from a 12 hour day and don’t spend time with their family, they may want to modify it to fit their needs. Overall they can be very beneficial for health, happiness, and sanity.
The benefits of Habits are numerous and I’d love to help teach you more!
If you’d like more clarity on anything just drop me a line and I’ll gladly help you out personally.