Humans are creatures of habit

When we do something regularly, we’re forming habits. In fact, around 40% of everything we do each day is habitual.

Habits can have positive and negative impacts on our lives, like brushing our teeth or not getting enough sleep.

To form a habit, its good to have an incentive to make completing the action of our habit more appealing.

Using an incentive activates the part of our brain which influences our motivation and reward learning – the amygdala.

The goal of a habit, particularly positive ones, is for the behaviour to become automatic.

Self-control and repetition are cornerstones of forming a habit, but there’s a bit more to understand about how our habit come about.

How habits begin

When it comes to understanding how our habits form, they generally come about in three stages.

  1. Something creates a trigger – Something will prompt your habit, like a time of day or an emotional state.
  2. The trigger automates an action – The cause produces an action (your habit) as a result.
  3. The action provides an outcome – The result of your habit could be a positive or negative outcome.

The power of goals for our habits

The most powerful thing you can have for your habit is a goal. It’s easier to develop a new behaviour or make progress towards an ideal outcome.

When we think about building positive habits, they are often health related.

Examples of health-related habits are exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and drinking more water.

They might also be around making a budget, saving, or learning something new.

These are great habits and will do wonders for your health and wellbeing.

There are also a few that are easy to do and can make a positive difference.

Habits such as practicing gratitude, laughing more and giving compliments are small habits that will give you and those around you a measurable lift.

Tips for creating positive habits

We are what we repeatedly do, so work out your plan and get started with these tips.

  • Prioritise – Choose a habit that is important and focus only on that.
  • Clarity – Be clear about what the habit is. For example, instead of wanting to exercise more make it specific and measurable.
  • Prepare – Before you get started make sure you have what you need. For example, if you’re wanting to stop drinking, get rid of the alcohol in your house.
  • Know your ‘why’ – Be clear on why you want to build or break this habit and the benefits it will bring you.
  • Commit publicly – Share your goal with family and friends to keep you accountable.
  • Know what helps – Be aware of situations that help or hinder your progress. For example, if you’re trying to quit smoking, recognise the situations where you are likely to smoke and avoid them.
  • Record progress – Use a journal to write down how you are going each day with your progress.
  • Celebrate – Commit to a reward that will motivate you at the outset and make sure you celebrate.

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