Change Unwanted Habits

Change Unwanted Habits

At this time of year, many of us will have made New Year resolutions, and we will be trying to form new habits or break old ones. Our careers are often defined by our accomplishments and failures, but our reputations are often encompassed in our habits. Good or bad, habits are a part of who we are and how we act.

The good news is that it is possible to change old habits and adopt new ones if we understand how habits form and how long they take to adopt. According to Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” there are three parts to how a habit forms. When these parts happen in sequence, it forms a pattern called a “habit loop”.

The first part is a trigger that cues your brain to perform a specific behaviour. This also takes the form of an urge to perform a behaviour.

The second part is the routine, which is the specific behaviour and what people general refer to as the habit.

The third part is the reward, which tells our brains that the routine has a positive outcome. It also helps our brain to perform the routine again when another trigger happens, therefore creating the habit loop.

Interestingly, research has shown that habitual behaviour comes from the same part of the brain that processes emotions and pattern recognition and is not associated with the part of the brain that is tied to decision-making. This is one of the reasons why we simply don’t think about our habits, and why those habits can be so hard to change.

Everyone is wired differently when it comes to learning automatic behaviours. On average it takes 66 days to ingrain a new habit so do not be discouraged if you’ve tried to adopt a habit and failed after 30 days, the evidence shows that it usually takes much longer and requires a lot more patience.

Are you changing your unwanted habits this year?

Adapted from an article by Mircea Vlaicu,

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