Activity 1: Developing a New Habit Loop
If you recall in Lesson One’s Podcast, I talked to you about the Habit Loop and also mentioned the book : The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The exercise below , based on the book, explains how to hack your habit loop.
The goal of this exercise is to help you change or develop one positive habit at work or at home over the next 3 weeks ( approx.).
Identify the Routine you want to change or develop. Maybe you want to lose those infamous 10 pounds over the next 6 months? Or maybe you want to change your sweet tooth splurge that happens daily? Choose one habit and let’s hack this Habit loop.
Experiment with Rewards. Maybe the Reward you think you want is not what is driving your habit?
The next time you get a sweet tooth craving, grab some fruit/coffee instead or how about just take a walk outside with someone. Maybe you use the habit of going to get something sweet to eat just to be social with others or get away from your work? Experiment with various options taking notes as you go along. When substituting your rewards, especially when changing habits, make sure the write down 3 words to describe how you feel right away and then do it again after 15 minutes. Your emotions can tell you lots about your habits. Are you still with a craving for the chocolate after you ate the fruit? Did anything change by letting time go by? Acknowledging how you feel and what is going on your insides is a very crucial stage in this process. Acknowledging for your brain “I am ok actually!” or ” Nope still having that craving!” is important. And listen, it is perfectly ok to say I really would like a piece of chocolate but you may add in a routine to take a brisk walk for 20 minutes to a building down the street in order to earn that piece of chocolate;-)
On the new habits you want to develop, also experiment with rewards to see what keeps you motivated. Why not get a new outfit one size smaller and set a date you will fit into it? How about setting monthly weight loss goals with a friend and weighting yourself in with them weekly to ensure you are hitting your targets?
Isolate the Cue. What is it triggering the habit routine? It can only be one of these five things; Location, Time, Emotional State, Other People, Immediately Pending Actions. Start keeping a daily journal on these 5 elements that are cuing you to your routine. You will immediately be able to identify your patterns and isolate your cue.
Have a alternative Plan. Knowing your cue and the Reward you crave after experimenting, create a plan BEFOREHAND using ” WHEN” and “THEN” as your pillars. If your Cue is a certain time of the day, here’s how you set up your plan. WHEN it is _____ o’ clock and I feel for a cookie, THEN I go outside and take a walk with a friend ( since you know the Reward of just getting away from your work is really all you are looking for). One new habits, WHEN I get up in the morning I will put on my gym clothing, THEN after breakfast, I will head straight from the treadmill. The WHEN and THEN plan already pre-set in your mind with a routine in place is what will help you stick to the plan. Leaving it up to you to decide based on how you are feeling is NOT a good strategy when it comes to habit change. Stick to the plan and before you know it you would have developed or changed a habit.
Here’s to all your new habits….you’ve got this!