Power of Forming Habits: For Educators
THE POWER OF HABITS
The key to changing a habit is understanding how it functions, which means understanding the structure of the habit. By harnessing the momentum of our habits, we can consciously improve our health and performance goals in drastic ways.
How Habits Work
If you’ve ever struggled to break out of an unhealthy routine—from biting your fingernails to eating a bowl of ice cream every night—you know how strong a habit can become. A habit is a decision you make at some point that you stop making, but your brain continues acting on. In fact, many of our choices every day happen unconsciously, triggered by a certain cue and delivering a particular reward that has become routine and effortless. The good news is once we recognize the cue and the reward that surrounds the behavior, we can work to change it. The trick to changing a habit then, is to switch the routine, and leave everything else in tact.
Components of a Habit
To overcome a habit, you must understand how they are triggered. A habit has 3 steps:
- A cue, a trigger that tells your brain which habit to use and puts it into automatic mode.
- A routine, which acts out the habit. This can be physical, mental, or emotional.
- A reward, which is the result of the routine and reinforces the habit.
Do you have some habits you would like to change or create? Download and examine these Power Of Habit Guidebook and flowcharts.
How Habits Work
New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, lays out a simple method for changing old habits and creating new ones, using scientific studies and personal stories of real-life change. By harnessing the momentum of our habits, we can consciously improve our lives in drastic ways—even that early morning lift or pre-workout snack can become an automatic behavior, something you do without even thinking about it.
The Interview with Charles Duhigg
Skip ahead in the video to hear Charles Duhigg discuss…
0:18 – What a habit is
1:37 – Why we form habits
2:20 – How to change a habit or create a new one
5:12 – The role of willpower in habit formation
6:24 – What keystone habits are and how they work
The 3 Must-Takeaways
Duhigg has managed to combine the scientific research with his own ideas and personal experiences in such a way that the book tells many extremely compelling stories, while teaching you everything you need to know about habits. Here are your 3 must-takeaways:
- Habits work in 3-step loops: cue, routine, reward.
- You can change your habits by substituting just one part of the loop, the routine.
- Willpower is the most important habit, and you can strengthen it over time with 3 things:
- Do something that requires a lot of discipline. For example, following your performance nutrition plan will make you practice delay gratification (more on this in the next topic).
- Plan ahead for worst-case scenarios. Even planning your meals prior to recording them in Lose It will help you manage a time-starved schedule and stick to your plan.
- Preserve your autonomy. Essentially, this means having a sense of control over your time, so you build a craftsman mindset. This is the kind of practice that keeps you in a flow, where your nutrition plan is hard enough to make you uncomfortable and forces you to learn, but not so much that frustration wins you over.
- Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business. USA: Random House. Retrieved from charlesduhigg.com.