In our previous post we discussed the two types of mindsets and how we can deliberately change the type of mindset we have. I asked you to think back to a task you recently gave up on because you didn’t possess the growth mindset. I would love to hear your experiences with this exercise, so please  your story to [email protected] 

At the moment you may feel a strong urge to get fit and healthy. We would say that at this time, you’re highly motivated to accomplish this goal. The truth is, the road to a fitter and healthier you is a long one, and on that road you will find that your current level of motivation will start to fade. Motivation is temporary, so what are you going to do when you no longer have the motivation to eat healthier and go to the gym? The answer is to form HABITS. Habits will be there for you when motivation fades.  

What are habits? Habits are simply patterns that we repeat without much thought. For instance, you may drive the same route to work every day. The first time you took that route, you had to think about where to turn. But over time, after driving that route day after day, you didn’t have to think about each and every turn along the way. Once you repeat an action many times, the brain rewires itself to make that process automated. You don’t have to think about doing it; it’s now a habit. 

Not all habits are good for us. If you feel bad about yourself, or you’re stressed or tired, you might notice that eating something sweet like chocolate might make you feel better. You have a “cue” or signal: the bad feeling. Then you have the “action”: the eating of the chocolate. Finally you have the “reward”: the feeling better. As time goes on and this process repeats itself, the reward you get from eating the chocolate will actually come before you even eat the chocolate—it’ll come in the form of a “craving” when the cue happens. Now, any time you start to feel bad, you’ll get a craving for chocolate. This is a habit loop that can spin out of control. For example, if you start to feel bad about how much weight you’ve gained from eating all of that chocolate, you will get the craving for more chocolate, which will lead to more weight gain, which will lead to more unhappy thoughts…

So how do we break a bad habit? The key is pinpointing the cue. I want you to examine your daily routine and determine your habits. Then determine if these habits are helping you move closer to your goal. If they aren’t, I want you to figure out what’s triggering the cue for your bad habits and take steps to alter that cue. If lack of sleep causes you to need a boost of caffeine late in the day, which then leads to you needing a glass of wine in order to wind down for bed, then I want you to take the steps necessary for getting a full eight hours of sleep. This way, we get sufficient sleep and don’t need the caffeine or the wine, all by changing the cue. 

Simply put, habits are a large part of what makes us who we are, and if you want to change, you will need to change your habits.  

 

Please write back with any questions you have for me and I will be glad to help. Also, feel free to share your experiences with me. 

 

For more information on habits and how to change them, check out Charles Duhigg’s book,

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.