"All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits," William James. Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they're not. They're habits.
Research shows that about 40% of our daily decisions are based on habit. But since they are habit we really don’t pay attention to them, that’s the whole idea! If your brain can put something into automatic then it doesn’t have to spend the energy thinking about it.
Habit works off of 3 basic elements: cue (the trigger) - habit loop or process - the reward.
If we want to develop a habit, we must establish a cue to act on. If you want to establish a daily walking habit for example, you might put your walking shoes by your bed at night. The next morning you get up see the shoes which reminds you that you need to walk. You go on your walk. If you do this everyday, your brain learns that when you get up in the morning you go for a walk. Pretty soon when you wake up, you just get up and go for the walk. It has become a habit in your daily decision making about exercise.
We also need reward for our habits. Your reward for walking might be the feeling of accomplishment each day. It might be the physical changes that you begin to feel or the change in test results at the doctor’s office.
There are many helps out there that can keep you on track in developing healthy habits. Some of my favorites are the Health App on IPhone or FitBit. There is also MyFitnessPal which helps you develop healthy eating habits.
Once habit is established, your actions are more automatic and it becomes easier to make the healthy choices.
In my personal life, I wanted to transition into more healthy routines for eating and exercise. I started with my eating habits. My bad habits including eating white sugar and consuming too much fat everyday. I established some cues that would help me make healthy choices. I found some low fat, low carb recipes. I made my weekly menu on the weekend, I shopped and had everything I needed for those recipes for the week. The meal decisions were already made.
I started tracking my food intake. I use the MyFitnessApp. Keeping a record of your food intake holds you accountable for your choices each day.
As I established my healthy cues to begin my new habits and set up motivation and encouragement for myself through meal planning and tracking apps, I began to walk out the routines to establish my new habits.
My reward is the accomplishment. To see that my healthy choices have paid off in weight loss and overall health in my physical body.
So any habit can be changed or developed. It just takes a simple decision that you want to do something different.
What habits come to your mind that you would like to change? What habits would you like to start?