Building the right habits
When embarking on a new goal, health or otherwise, remaining positive through adversity or difficulty is a key to success. However, that’s easier said than done.
One way to ensure you remain on track is to build positive habits. A habit, which can be good or bad, is a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. It means the brain doesn’t see good or bad, it just sees a routine of behaviour. Habits are always with us, and understanding this allows us to create new ones (get onto the health treadmill to look and feel better) as well as change current ones (stop smoking).
In ‘The Power of Habit’ written by Charles Duhigg, he explains how habits occur and work. We’ll summarise they key concepts here and with this knowledge in your armoury, you’ll have the tools to better understand why we do what we do and how to change.
Now the simple cycle for a habit to occur is as follows
- The Cue – a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
- The Routine – Which can be physical or mental or emotional.
- The Reward – Which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. This includes Cravings.
The basic principle is that when a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision-making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit – unless you find new routines – the pattern will unfold automatically.
Let’s take a simple example: We know there is no programming within our brain that makes us see a box of doughnuts and want a sugary treat. But through marketing we all know they are sugary, high in carbohydrates, and the taste provides us with a sugar high. So when we see a box of doughnuts on offer, we immediately push for it, to satisfy the craving. If we resist, we feel disappointed.
This also transcends into positive habits: if you make a commitment to train three times a week, you prepare your gym bag each night in readiness, you plan the time around the rest of your schedule and you set an alarm to ensure you wake up, then you are far more likely to train three time a week.
This simple and basic neurological function is used in marketing and advertising everywhere – and if you look closely at brands like Apple, Nike, McDonalds and Mercedes, so can see this loop at play.
So figure out which habits you have that you want to change, and those you want to enforce, to help you get the rewards you wish to have.
Here at U Fit Studio, we regularly work with our clients to help them build positive habits, for now and the future.