The Power of Habit

The alarm goes off and you hit snooze.

Seven minutes later, it goes off again.  Before you pull back the covers you grab your phone and check your notifications.

After scanning your Facebook thread you get out of bed and you walk to the bathroom and turn on the shower.  

Once in the shower you wash your hair first, then your face, and then your body.  Right arm first followed by your left…

The crazy thing is, you probably didn’t think about any of those actions.  Over time your brain has engineered and ingrained habits that control your everyday choices.

What if I told you that most of the decisions you make on a daily basis are actually not decisions at all.  Rather, they are habits that you have developed over the years.  Essentially, for most of the day your body operates on autopilot.

In his book, “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg explains how habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.  And when a habit is formed, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.

Habits are extremely powerful, and the development of good habits will be critical for your fitness and performance success.

DEVELOPING A NEW HABIT

Eating better, losing weight, or unlocking your full potential can all be achieved by developing new habits, or changing old habits. 

There is a 3 step process to habit formation:

1) Cue (triggers your brain to go into automatic mode)

2) Routine

3) Reward (helps brain figure out if particular loop is worth remembering) 

In the beginning you must be proactive.  You must think about and make a conscious effort to complete the tasks you wish to turn into a habit.  The beautiful thing is, when a habit is formed, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.  In other words, once the habit is formed you don’t have to think about it any more.

To change an existing bad habit, you must keep the cue and the reward the same but change the routine.  For example, if the cue is looking at the clock at 2pm, and the routine is walking to the cafeteria to socialize with your co-workers and grabbing a cooking, and the reward is getting away from your desk for 10 – 15 minutes.  You can keep the cue and the reward but swap out the social time at the cafeteria for social time outside in nature.  Effectively you are getting the same reward, getting away from your desk.  But you are cutting out the cookie, making this habit a lot healthier.

Start small and be consistent.  This is the key to successful habit formation.