Most of us, if not all of us, have a bad habit that we want to get rid of. Even though some of us take the initiative, we seldom succeed. But does that mean it is impossible? Should we just give up? If so, I wouldn’t have written this in the first place!
“Habits are malleable throughout your entire life.”
— Charles Duhigg
After reading the book, The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I could not but help myself to write this. Throughout the rest of this story, I will guide you on how to break, change or build any habits you ever wished for!
As habits take weeks, months or even years to form, it would be a wishful thinking that you can just remove one from your life in an instant. Zap! And its gone. No! no! no! no! That is not how it works!
So how can you get rid of it?
A habit can be said to have 3 different parts or phases:
Habits are autonomous. When your brain gets a cue, like a programmed computer, it will follow a routine and get a reward.
Let us scrutinise the habit of brushing one’s teeth. We start brushing our teeth when it is dirty(Cue). We put some toothpaste on our toothbrush and brush it(Routine) until it is clean, shiny and gives that cool tingly sensation(Reward).
Now that you know how habits work, how do you change it?
It starts by identifying the cue. I once had a bad habit of wasting time on the internet and I will be using that as an example. I started of tracking when and why I wasted time, lets say, watching cat videos instead of actually finishing my homework. It usually happened when I felt bored and was not motivated to do anything. That’s my cue. Watching cat videos was my routine, and the happiness from seeing their cuteness was my reward to get over boredom.
How did I tackle this problem?
By forcing myself to not watch and do my work was what I initially did. It was gruesome. My boredom just made everything a living hell. Until I finally read further into the book(The Power Of Habit) and realised it was a devastating mistake(just exaggerating). What the book suggested was to replace the routine with another more productive routine.
Bad habits do not vanish overnight with sheer willpower alone. So now what?
I remembered I love reading. I find it pleasurable. So I decided, why not read books instead. My dad gifted me a kindle last year and instead of letting dust collect over it, why not make use of it?
And that is how I got a new reading habit and removed my old one. I got the same reward from the same cue, just a different routine.
I warn you though, it takes time. Occasionally you will find yourself doing the same again. To truly remove a habit, “You have to actually believe in your capacity to change for habits to permanently change.” as Duhigg said. With a bit of patience and effort, you are all set!
So in conclusion, identify your habit cue, routine and reward. Replace the routine with another one that gives the same reward.