For many people, their New Year’s resolutions concerned breaking bad habits or building new, more useful ones.
If you were one of those people, then perhaps you’ve already discovered that breaking an unwanted habit, and installing a new one, can be more challenging than you anticipated.
In this week’s article, I discuss how we can overcome these difficulties, to break unwanted habits and create good habits that stick.
What is a Habit?
A habit is a routine way of thinking, feeling, or behaving, which tends to start automatically without any conscious thought. That is, we’ve become ‘unconsciously competent’ at the particular activity e.g. driving a car, brushing our teeth, stopping at a red light.
A research study published by Duke University found that 40% of the actions people perform each day aren't actual decisions, but habits.
The 3Rs - the structure of a Habit
There is a simple 3 step pattern that every habit follows. This pattern is known as the “3 R's:”
- Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behaviour)
- Routine (the behaviour itself; the action you take)
- Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behaviour)
If the Reward is positive, then the pattern forms a positive feedback loop that tells your brain, “Next time this reminder happens, do the same thing.” And so the habit is reinforced and becomes more and more entrenched.
This 3R sequence is discussed in more detail in Charles Duhigg’s best–selling book, The Power of Habit.
For a better life, you need Better Habits
“Good habits are hard to develop but easy to live with; bad habits are easy to develop but hard to live with. The habits you have, and the habits that have you, will determine almost everything you achieve or fail to achieve.”
~ Brian Tracy
Basically, what Tracy is saying, is that for a better life, you need better habits.
Developing better habits that allow us to focus on the things that matter, can often be the difference between having a productive, healthy, or satisfying day vs. an ineffective, stressful, or discouraging day. And, over time, our habits have an enormous impact on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.
Why can building New Habits be so difficult?
James Clear, author of Transform Your Habits says there are five primary challenges that hold most of us back when it comes to building new reliable habits and behaviours. They are:
- Lack of time and too many commitments
- Inconsistency with taking action
- Procrastination and laziness
- Self-doubt and lack of confidence
- Lack of focus
Changing Habits ....
You don't eliminate a bad habit, you replace it.
~ James Clear
So how do we overcome these challenges and create better habits that stick?
By changing one or more of the three steps in the 3R pattern.
Once we’ve done this the pattern can’t run the same way and the habit is broken. For example when I’m coaching someone to break the smoking habit I help the person to:
- disconnect each of the Reminders (triggers) that used to make them automatically reach for a cigarette.
- change the Routine by, for example getting them to squeeze a stress ball or drink a glass of water, at the times when they used to be holding a cigarette.
- experience a different and better Reward. For example by engaging in 7/11 diaphragmatic breathing, the person can experience greater relaxation in just a couple of minutes than they ever did after smoking a cigarette.
We can also use the 3R pattern to design a healthy, positive new habit, and the more rewarding we make this new habit, then the more likely we are to stick with it.
If you’d like to explore how I can help you break one or more of your unwanted/unhealthy habits and/or install a better, healthier, more life enhancing habit, do get in touch. Let’s get together for a free no-obligation conversation - 021 056 8389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”
~ Jessie Potter, educator and counselor
Performing Under Pressure Workshop
Most people will experience pressure at some point in their lives and a certain amount can be healthy, but there can be times when it seems like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. For many, the pressure builds and builds until it becomes just too much to face and they endure a life blighted by stress. It doesn’t have to be that way. Avoiding stress and coping with pressure is possible once you know how.
I’ve developed a one day workshop to share some of the pressure management skills I routinely help my stressed and anxious clients develop. The workshop will be held on the following two dates - 3 March and 18 August. Click HERE to find out more about the workshop and to secure your place at one of the two workshops.
Have a wonderful week.
Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise is in helping people perform under pressure and gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, professional hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).