What is a habit
A habit is an activity or a routine that is repeated regularly. It is mostly automatic, which means you are not aware of it and is unconscious behaviour. But it does not have to be.
Brushing your teeth in the morning for example is a habit.
Habits can be good or bad for you. Brushing teeth is gnerally considered to be a good habit. On the other hand, drinking alcohol before going to bed every night might be a bad habit. There are many habits that also fall into a void where it is not clear if the habit is good or bad.
How do habits form
Habits are repetitive. The more you do it the more engrained the behaviour becomes. The easier it becomes to do it. Do you remember your first driving lesson? How about now? What was awkward at first is now mostly unconscious and happens automatically.
Each habit has three main parts to it. Cue/Trigger, the action or behaviour and the reward.
Cue: Something that triggers at a certain time, at a certain place, when with someone, when doing a particular task or something similar. For example: morning when you wake up, when you finish work, when you are about to go to bed, etc.
Routine: The action you take like brushing your teeth, going to the gym, going to the pub, reading, etc. This is often where change happens.
Reward: This is what you get from having done the activity or behaviour and how you feel about it after the routine has finished. The gym might energise you. Reading on the other hand might be very relaxing.
Can you change the habit
Yes, it is possible to change habits.
Get clarity. The first step in wanting to change a habit is understanding the change you want to achieve. For example, if you are trying to lose weight then it is useful to understand if you are trying to have a better relationship through losing weight or have a better lifestyle. Or is it something else. If you are trying to have a better relationship, then the change you is seek may be different to the path you have chosen. The change is achievable regardless but having clarity about the change you seek will help you overcome the habit quicker.
Understand motivation. The motivation for change will also play a role. There are many factors that work towards motivation. Amongst them is ability. Generally speaking, something that is easy to do requires low motivation and something that is harder to do requires higher motivation. Then there are circumstantial factors. For example, there might have been a wakeup call to make the change. Knowing your motivation allows you to keep it in check and establish counter measures for when the motivation is low.
Understand the barriers. Understanding the reasons, hurdles, objections and problems that you might encounter on your journey helps you to prepare for them and develop strategies to overcome them. If this is not understood at the outset, then it becomes easier to give up when you run into problems.
“If you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same results.”
How I can help you change your habit
We begin by getting clarity and understanding motivation for the change you seek. We will also look at the barriers to change. This will help us understand what you want to achieve and the problems you are likely to face.
The next step is to look at your habit in detail. Examine and understand the three parts of the habit set out above. The better we understand the trigger and the reward, the more equipped we become to change the habit. By working with you we might uncover some other parts of your life that might feed into the habit or problems and hurdles that you may not have seen. This is often the case. Since I am objective to the situation and to you, I will be able to help you get clarity from the habit and what reward system it might have created for you. It is not uncommon for the reward of your habit to be different from what you think it is.
Awareness of the habit loop might be enough to drive change. I can work with you to get awareness and then also see it through to completion. Overcoming hurdles as you encounter them. There might be homework that we set each week for you. Ultimately, you will have ownership of the change you seek and the process with which you choose to implement it. This is generally a cognitive exercise but can become something deeper depending on the change you seek.