How to Form Good Habits
We live our lives according to our habits. 95% of what we do is solely because of our habits. We will do what is good if we possess good habits and vice versa. To lead a happy life we should develop the habits that make us happy. To live a wealthy life we should adopt the habits due to which wealthy people are wealthy. Then question arises how we form habits. Are they innate or can be acquired? The habits can be acquired or adopted by consciously repeating them. After practicing this these behaviors or actions happen naturally and become your habits. Good habits are difficult to form or at least seem difficult and bad habits are easy to form or at least seem easy.
Why it is hard to stick to positive/good habits
It is very easy to fall into bad habits instead of good ones.
- Eating junk food
- Watching TV for longer time
- Biting your nails
- Not scheduling your work
- Wasting time
- Going late to bed and rising late
We all struggle with bad habits from time to time. We mostly realize that we have developed bad habits and we want to change them because we all know that good habits have long-term benefits in our lives. What you are, what you were and what you will be in future is sum of what your habits are, what your habits were and what will be your habits in future. We sometimes try to change the habits, but normally fail. We want to live a fulfilling, healthy and remarkable life. We get inspired and motivated to adopt good habits. We start and fail. Then question arises that why is it so hard to form and maintain good habits? Is it because we start with the wrong strategy or the good habits are really difficult to adopt? The simple answer is that habits can be learnt and un-learnt. The unlearning of a habit is replacing it with a good one. For example if you are a smoker then this means that that you have a bad habit. Now how would you unlearn this habit? Simply replace this habit with a nicer one i.e. not smoking is a good habit - absence of a bad habit is a good habit.
3 Steps to change a bad habit
According to Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit” there are three steps to change a habit.
The cue reminds you of your habit. It is a reminder to start a specific action. For example if you want to be an early riser and set alarm accordingly. As soon as the alarm rings you are reminded of leaving the bed. Now it starts your test whether you leave the bed or set the alarm off and don’t leave the bed.
After getting the cue or signal you take action. This action is actually your habit. For example after above cue it’s time for action. You should leave the bed lest you fall asleep again. If you leave the bed, start the next scheduled task and repeat this action routinely then you would soon achieve the habit of early rising. Therefore, you will develop new habit of early rising.
The reward of the action or behavior. In above mentioned example if you leave the bed as soon as the alrm rings you will feel inspirited and motivated over what you have achieved- you have achieved your target of rising early. Your mind will feel triumph. This accomplishment will further boost your morale and the successive works will look easier to you.
If the reward is positive then this cycle of cue, routine and reward will form a loop and your mind will be trained to take the action or adopt the behavior as per trigger or cue. The actions that take place are described below in the diagram.
On the other hand if you procrastinate then it’s probable that you would fall asleep again. In this case you don’t develop the habit of early rising rather you develop the following;