Habits. Out with the Old, In with the New!

Habits are not formed overnight, and they are also not changed overnight. They take time, mindfulness and mental energy-a lot of mental energy! And once they are formed, and they become habitual, you can free up that mental energy to be used elsewhere.

 

Okay great, but how does one form a habit?? 

 

I recently read (or power walked all around Los Angeles while listening to the audio book, to be more accurate, but I digress…) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. As it turns out, habits begin with a ‘habit loop’. This a three-part process:the cue, routine and reward. 

 

The cue is your trigger, it tells your brain that it’s time to go into auto-pilot while the behavior happens. The routine, or the behavior you are trying to form into a habit, comes next. You follow that with a reward that will close the loop and help your brain to remember this process in the future.

 

Allow me to share a personal ‘habit loop’ I started late last year. I wake up and put on my running shoes and load up a Podcast on my phone. This is my trigger. It tells my brain, the behavior is about to happen. Then I do the thing I’m trying to make into a habit. In this case a brisk morning walk to jumpstart my day. I close out the loop by having an especially scrumptious cold brew/date/cacao blend. 

 

Important to note, the reward should be something you don’t normally have, so that it remains exclusive to this loop. Which is why I have a special coffee, instead of my typical order. I also keep consistency by doing this loop at nearly the same time everyday. I try not to overthink it, because early on it’s easy to talk yourself out of it! But you need to do your loop DAILY to make it stick. After an extended amount of time (I’m not going to specify a time because this process can be long and you don’t want your brain focusing on a deadline, the important thing is to just keep going), it will no longer be a decision about waking up to put on your shoes and go outside, it will be automatic and your brain can essentially work less. Congrats, you’ve formed a habit!

 

But what about those habits that are holding us back?

 

Whether you are a compulsive email checker, can’t stay from Instagram, would rather watch tv… the list goes on… there are probably habits you feel are detrimental to the goals you are trying to reach. The first step is knowing how habits are formed. Which you do! So to change a habit you have right now, you need to understand the loop associated with it. Identify your trigger and reward, and work from there.

 

You can eliminate the triggers, restructure your environment, or create better habits to replace the bad ones. 

 

For instance, do you reach into your purse and look at your phone every time you pull up to a stop light? Alter the environment and keep your cellphone tucked in your glove box while you are driving. Do you sit on the couch and immediately want to flip on the television? The remote is your trigger, hide it from yourself! Do you smoke to cope with stress (trigger)? Replace the smoking with another stress-reducing activity. Try some breathing exercises perhaps!

 

Create accountability!

 

Something that is extremely beneficial when both forming habits, or eliminating old ones, is to have someone to be accountable to you. Do you know someone who is trying to cut the same bad habit? Team up wth one another! Or just share your habits you are working on with a group.

 

In the worksheets below we will be working on both habits you want to make and want to eliminate. We will also be having a group discussion at 3pm PST in the Facebook group to talk about this.

Please remember these worksheets are for a select number of CYL Squad members, if you share them it devalues your fellow Squad member's membership. The password to access the worksheets is:

squad2017

 

Grace GulleyJanuary