I have a terrible habit of shaking my leg. It pisses off people sitting next to me, and it even starts to bug me when I see other people do it! What a hypocrite! It’s a habit I want to shake (pun intended) so I thought I picked up The Power of Habit. I tried to read this book when I was a lot younger and couldn’t finish it. It’s interesting reading the book now, I was bored out of my mind when I was younger but with a bit of age, the book was fascinating. In saying that however, I do believe towards the end it was simply the same theme, reinforcing the same point.
What engaged me about the book was the things it made me think about. For example, why do all the McDonald’s look the same? Why does improving organizational safety improve profits? why does the Alcoholics Anonymous work? These questions made me realize the things I do every day. To distill the book down to some key points:
1) Habit = Cue -> Routine -> Reward.
- Cue: something that will start the habit – perhaps you are bored or stressed.
- Routine: You decide to do something to stop this, so you smoke, drink a coffee or snack.
- Reward: You feel the benefits immediately – sugar high or relief through smoking.
So work on changing the ROUTINE which will lead you to a REWARD.
So when you are bored and stressed? Read a book, go for a walk, do some exercise. When I had gained a lot weight, I realized my routine was gaming or eating food. Instead, I’ve channeled that to exercising. The ‘good’ habits take a while, and it took me about 2 months before I really started enjoying exercise and it’s reward (vs. gaming or eating sweets!). My gaming routine was the worst of all – the cue was something as ‘sitting at the computer’. Instead of doing work, I would play games or go on social media. Instead, I’ve slowly been changing that, making sure I always read or write while I’m at the computer. It’s still hard, and occasionally I have some rest and play a game or so with friends. It’s definitely hard and I’m still transitioning.
2) Surround yourself with those trying to break the habit as well.
When you see that it IS possible to break a habit, what will you think? A feeling of realization will come over you. When your friend quits smoking, you will want to as well. Why? it’s because you start to realize change is possible. That’s important. Seeing people around you break the habit is amazing and will continue to motivate you. I would go further to say, surround yourself with people who have already broken the habit, or don’t even have the habit at all. Another good area is Reddit – there are so many subreddits it’s likely what you are looking for is there.
3) Always celebrate the small wins.
A small win in one area can produce something even greater. If you are beating the habit, measure it. I counted the hours I would save by ‘not’ gaming or counted times I shook my leg. Slowly but surely, I started to get happier and happier seeing the numbers. That was my reward, conquering a bad habit. It wasn’t easy and occasionally I still find myself ‘flinching’ at the THOUGHT of breaking my good habit. It’s bloody hard, but with time, and be sure you truly want it for yourself, you can conquer and create a good habit or eliminate a bad one. Give the Power of Habit a read (or the audio version – I have heard this is well read on Audible.)