It’s our first week back in the New Year, at the SCA and we have been instructed to select a habit each. Marc has turned habit-forming into a bit of a point-based game to motivate us. I have always been fascinated by the psychology of habits and their undying nature. Have you noticed that if you remove ‘H’ from the word habit ‘a-bit’ is left. If you remove ‘a’, there is a ‘bit’ left and even if you remove ‘b’, ‘it’ is still there.
A habit is a behaviour that has been repeated so many times that it becomes automatic. I’ve compiled some tips and tricks to master the challenge of habit-forming or habit-breaking so we could all win the game against Marc and steal his millions. If you are not in SCA, you could still benefit from this by forming habits that will ultimately win you the millions, in whatever you do.
- Make it your identity – A habit is a behaviour, so rather than setting a goal, become the person who has the new habit. For example, your goal should not be to learn photoshop skills, but to change your identity to someone who uses photoshop.
- Break the loop – When you have a bad habit that you want to change, recognise the habit cycle in order to break it. For example, if you bite your nails, first find the cue that leads you to start biting your nails.
- Chunk it up – Bitesize tasks are easier to achieve. For example, if you want to learn a new language, starting with an hour a day is too much to commit to, but dedicating 5 minutes is much more practical and achievable.
- Stack it – Combining new habits with old ones can help. For example, write your gratitude journal just before brushing your teeth and say to yourself that you can brush your teeth only when your gratitude journal is done.
- Set a location – A location can be a cue. For example, six hating your ideas in the tube.
- Making it visible – Place the book you want to read on top of your pillow, this way you can’t forget about it.
- Making it invisible – If you want to stop snacking, get rid of it from your cupboard and don’t walk by the snack aisle in the stores.
- Connect with rewards – Combine pleasurable activities such as listening to music or podcasts as forms of motivation. For example, you can only listen to your favourite podcast whilst working out in the gym.
- Join the cult – Make friends or join a culture where your desired behavioural change is the normal behaviour.
- Cultivate negativity – This seems odd but works if you are trying to get rid of a really bad habit. For example, if you want to quit smoking, read all about the terrible ways smoking affects your health and read it every morning.
- Make it easy – It is human nature to always choose the route of least resistance, so by making something easy you are more likely to favour it over other options. For example, stocking up on healthy food and salads in your fridge will automatically make you eat healthy.
Small habit changes may not appear to make a difference in the short term but there is a compounded effect over time. As quoted in the book ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear, if you get 1% better everyday, you would be 37 times better after one year.