How many habits do you have? They are automatic behaviours performed with little or no thoughts, yet they subtly drive our lives.
Habits are micro-changes in your life which don’t involve any upheaval, revolution or reinventing yourself but may lead to a big result through repeating it time and again.
The smallest action, good or bad, repeated daily from saving a single dollar to smoking a single cigarette can have a huge accumulative effect. It can lead to enormous success or a personal disaster. Hence understanding and embracing your habits is a great way to take control of your life and achieve more.
A 20-minute jog will not make any difference overnight but repeated every day will make you leaner and fitter in 6-12 months. Conversely eating family size pizza every day will make you obese within 12 months.
How to Create a Habit?
Instant Reward is the Key to be successful and to understand how habits are formed.
It’s a simple process of trial and error. The brain responds to a new situation and if repeated it becomes the habit.
Take your morning coffee habit. Your waking up is a cue triggers craving and a prospect of staying alert. This prompts the action to get out of bed, make a cup of coffee and get reward with a ready and alert feeling for the day.
Use Cues and Frictions to form Habits
The key to success is a strong, obvious, clear, specific and intentional cue, difficult to ignore or avoid to combat your sugar habit, and develop good eating and exercise habits.
- Do you have a sweet tooth? Then make your home free of sweet treats.
- Do you intend to “eat better”? Then ensure a healthy non-processed food in the fridge and an easy plan in advance for the least of fuss.
- Have you decided to jog in the morning? Then place your running gear close to your bed. Change your mindset from “I will run more often” to “on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when the alarm goes off I will put my running gear on and I’ll clock 3km”. These will lead to building positive running habits.
Enhance your Motivation Tools
We are motivated by the anticipation of reward. The human brain releases dopamine, a feel-good hormone, when we engage in pleasures such as eating, watching a favourite movie or having sex.
This is a powerful Temptation Bundling process where we can use our favourite habits to release dopamine while developing new habits.
It is so much easier to ride your hated exercise bike while watching a favourite show, you are addicted to. Eventually, it will become your favourite exercise.
How Habits and Evolution play together
Our ancestors focused on immediate concerns such as finding food and shelter, stay safe from a predator. This environment allowed immediate return encoded over 300,000 years of evolution.
In the modern office work environment, we focus on long-term goals with delayed-return rewards difficult to sustain a good habit. We lived in such an environment for less than 200 years, too short to effect evolutionary conditioning. So pursuing habits with a delayed-return needs an attached immediate gratification.
Here comes a modern technology to the rescue with a simple but effective technique. Using a simple calendar to cross daily activity is effective because habit tracking itself is an attractive and satisfying habit. The anticipation and action of crossing off each day will feel good and keep you motivated. Many Apps such as S-HEALTH make this task even more enjoyable.
Tony Olejnicki – an exercise physiologist and engineer, is the curator of the HiACHIEVR Active Office System, an inspirational habits development program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognitive availability and optimizing personal wellness.
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Active Office System to high productivity workplace of engaged, highly resilient and energized employees.