A bad habit cannot be forgotten or just removed from our life. It needs to be changed, updated or reinforced with a new habit.
Do you know that habit is part of our subconscious mind. A habit is developed when we do something without thinking or forcing our self.
The insights in this article has been taken from the book – “Atomic Habit by James Clear ”. It has explained nicely, in a detailed manner that Creating a habit is a four step process. We will be discussing the process of making new habit with a very easy example which many of us can connect to in our daily lives.
Cue/ Source/ Trigger – This is the source which triggers to do something. Source can be different for different people for the same situation.
Craving / Desire/ Want – Is when our Desire or want arises to do that
Response / Action – Our action or what we do when we get the above desire
Reward – This is the good feeling we get after our response. It makes us feel happy and we want to do the same thing again.
4 people – Person A, B & C have a habit of consuming high alcohol in certain situations. They want to change this habit.
Cue – For person A, cue can be when he sees a wine shop. For person B, cue is when he fights with his girlfriend. C is already an alcoholic and have meets his alcoholic group of friends.
Craving – For all 3 people, their desire for drinking arises when they face the above mentioned stimuli, situation or cue.
Response- They all go to the bar and start boozing.
Reward – Alcohol makes their mind work slow, they forget their problems for a temporary period of time. This gives them relaxation & happiness as a reward.
Habit reinforcement : How to change a bad habit?
Habit Reinforcement is a process of establishing a pattern of a new habit. In the above example all 3 want to quit drinking.
Cue – Remove/ Reduce it so that the source which induces to do the action is not present. In above the removal of cue can be as follows.
E.g. Person A does not pass by from the road where a wine shop is present. Person B ends a painful relationship. C does not meet his alcoholic friends at the time when they drink.
Craving – All of them have to make a conscious decision that they need to quit drinking. This includes a firm belief and connecting that activity with its repercussions and problems.
E.g. They can use various techniques which work best for them like reminding themselves the reason why they want to quit. Writing their objective somewhere they can see repeatedly so that it gets registered in their subconscious mind. Having a friend who motivates and supports them to get over this habit. Taking inspiration from others. Distracting themselves continuously with some other work.
Response – If a person really believes in achieving something and has Will Power then he will not change his craving into action.
The action of drinking can be replaced by having a filling and healthy drink for A. Doing yoga, meditation and becoming busy in work for B. C meets his alcoholic friends at that time only when they don’t drink like morning time. He can also take professional help to overcome it.
Reward – Once they are able to quit drinking, they will feel proud of themselves which will make them strong. Furthermore life will start giving them reward by being more happy, energetic and in control.
How to create a new good habit?
Creating a new habit requires Will Power and courage to pursue our dreams and not quitting them in between. If we talk about the above 4 step process this is how we can fit in a new habit into it.
Habit – Let’s say you want to develop a new habit to wake up at 5 am daily and your general timing is between 7 am to 9 am which is not fixed. You can make a custom model as per your comfort using the following process.
1. Do the correct Goal Setting.
Goal should be the one which really defines your objective. E.g. You want to wake up early is not a goal as it does not have any ends of measurement. Waking up at 5 am daily is a goal. Mastering the technique of correct Goal Setting does most of the work.
2. Make a cue/ source visible and obvious.
Our subconscious mind learns through repetition. Making a source visible is to remember it again and again. When a thought triggers in our mind repeatedly we are able to store it in the permanent or long term learning.
- To wake up early you can write it on a paper and put it where you see it easily.
- Put alarms and keep them far so you have to stand in order to switch it off. Further it helps you to come in active mode.
- Have smart curtains installed and direct them open at 5 am so your room fills up with morning light.
- Request someone in your family who wakes up early to call you and talk for sometime.
3. Craving needs to be attractive so that it motivates you.
Again we will go to the root cause of our goal to wake up early. Is it study, yoga, meditation, reading, attending some class etc. Having a motive in mind which completes one’s desire helps in creating a craving for it. Craving triggers can be different for different people. To wake up early –
- Keep your objective and result in mind. Thinking about the desire fulfillment or reward creates craving.
- You can also add a unique reward to the completion of your goal. Like if you are able to wake up at 5 am for 21 days at a stretch; you will buy your desired phone.
- Then Add it with other habits and routine. That you will study from 5.30 – 7 am. Do exercise from 7.15 – 8 am and so on. When we make a timetable or routine our mind starts listening to us. Our Subconscious Mind is a very good follower if we give it a process to follow everyday.
4. Make your Response/ Action easy to do.
- Give yourself easy goal to achieve. Slowly you can raise the bar. If you wake up at 7 am then don’t give yourself a very big goal to wake up at 5 am immediately. Divide your goal into smaller goals like for a week you will wake up at 6.30 am, next week 6.15 am and so on till you reach 5 am target.
- A person should eat less in the night because the more we eat at night the more time our digestive system will take to process it.
- Have early and light dinner i.e. till 7 pm.
- Sleep on time in order to wake up early to support your body to adapt to the new routine.
5. Give yourself a Reward so it feels satisfying.
- If you are able to wake up at 6.30 am for a week then on Sunday you will go out for a movie. Giving small rewards to small goals is attainable and progressive way of creating a good habit.