Written by Megan McGrath
In the previous article on Creating Healthy Habits, Part 1, habits were described as routine, unconscious behaviours that are performed on a regular basis. The key to creating new habits is to practise them often. However, it is important to understand the logic behind to creating habits to assist with long-term behavioural change. There is a science behind the way we form habits and it is this simple logic that will help you understand your own habits in order to change them and replace them with positive new ones.
All habits are based on a simple loop of:
1. Cue. This could be a time, place, person or situation that triggers the habit.
2. Routine. What you actually do – your action.
3. Reward. What you receive for taking action.
Steps in creating new habits:
There are four simple steps in the process of creating healthy habits and it is a very simple process. The steps are:
1. Write down your plan for the new habit.
2. Identify your triggers.
3. Choose the new replacement for the trigger.
4. Focus on doing the replacement habit every single time that the trigger occurs and repeat this plan for at least 30 days. Remember, the more repetition you can do the more likely the new habit will become permanent.
Let’s use exercise as an example. So, if you want to start exercising each morning, then apply this process in the following ways.
Cue – Upon going to bed, lay out your exercise clothes ready for the following morning. Remember to set the alarm.
Routine – Alarm goes off, get out of bed, get dressed, put your shoes on and start exercising.
Reward – Feel energized after completing morning exercise. For extra incentive and motivation, you might like to set a larger reward of a massage or a new gym outfit at the end of your 30 days.
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Look to your right…
In what areas of your life can you apply this simple process?
Choose the new habits you’d like to create.
How can you cue these habits?
What will you do to create a routine?
What are some ways to reward yourself?