A habit is defined as a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. If you instinctively reach for a chocolate bar right after meals, you have a habit. If you check your emails first thing upon starting up your computer, you have a habit. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioral patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways. If you are not as fit as you are today, it’s because of old habits that keep you inactive. If you are not as successful as you wish to be today, it’s because bad habits kept you from taking the necessary steps to get to the top of the ladder.
- Decision To Commit
- Understand How Habits Work
Nobody in this world can stop you if you decide to continue with your bad habit. Change will come the day you truly want it. Some habits will be much harder than others, harder than changing from using chopsticks with your right hand to your left hand, but with a firm decision and unwavering determination, you will make it.
The process within our brains that creates habits is a three-step loop. 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. Over time, this loop — cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward — becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become neurologically intertwined until a sense of craving emerges. What’s unique about cues and rewards, however, is how subtle they can be.
A great example would be backing the car out of the driveway. When we first learned how to drive, a large dose of concentration was involved. You had to peer into the rearview and side mirrors checking for obstacles, putting your foot on the brake, moving the gearshift to reverse, removing your foot from the brake, estimating the distance between the garage and the street while keeping the wheels aligned, calculating how images in the mirrors translate into actual distances, all while applying differing amounts of pressure to the gas pedal and brake. After doing the same routine over and over again, you now pull into the street without thinking much. As a result, a habit is formed.