‘We are creatures of habit’
The interesting thing about habits are once they are formed they are managed on auto pilot. Be it brushing your teeth; washing your hands before eating or being polite to the elderly are examples of habits, perhaps even familial wisdom that we take for granted. We are taught from when we are bourn that the world is black and white often infused with strands of fear. ‘If you do not brush your teeth then they will fall out’. Whether this is the correct approach is debatable. If it gets results that will instil healthy habits, then it may be a good thing to reinforce it with a ‘If then what’ approach as Dan Pink discusses in ‘Drive’.
However, the carrot and stick approach to why we would even dare form a habit has severe limitations. As Dan Pink further discusses in Drive, we are less motivated when it comes to being rewarded for something we are doing out of passion or love. Even with work, finding something you love doing is less about the money and more about the sheer enjoyment derived from it. Let’s take this approach into the formation of healthy habit creation. In his incredibly insightful book ‘Power of Habit’, Charles Duhigg explores how habits are formed and are lived out by people who create for themselves a successful and fulfilling life based around a system of healthy habits.
What are some areas in your life that you know if you create a healthy habit you will eventually succeed and overcome the disappointment of ‘failure’, yet again? For me it was creating a morning routine that included movement, breathing and meditation for at least 15 mins a day. I made this my focus and when I fell short I reminded myself of the benefits and positive effects it had on my day. This became my craving and reason to keep on doing it. Perfection aside, I have now found myself progressing along the method of my morning routine which is now an instilled habit. You can do the same for whatever healthy habit you would like to instil. Is it to read more? Is it to give a little more?
Healthy habits are not just formed and left at that. There is a growth aspect of healthy habits that becomes your very own ecosystem for the way you navigate your daily life. Rather than being a rigid set of regimes, healthy habits should allow for flow or as Chikcsentmehigh states: ‘Provide the platform for optimal experience. I would also add: continual breakthroughs in your personal and business life.
If you are a personal trainer, teacher or coach, what are some healthy habits that you have instilled to make what you do one of growth and sheer enjoyment? The impact of positive and healthy habits on culture is immense. At the functional training institute, one healthy habit we formed was including our ‘company values’ reflection for our weekly meetings. Simply we each go around and are asked how you have reflected a value for the week. Further, ‘what is a value you have seen reflected in a team member that you would like to commend’? This empowering process ensures we uphold and act according to our values from grassroots to the dynamic interaction of everyday business musings.
After reading the ‘power of habit’ I took to creating ‘habit loops’ that are important to me. The essence of creating these are:
Identify the habit you would like to form
What is the trigger or cue for this? This requires us to be completely aware of our body language, thoughts and words we form on a daily basis
Create the routine and identify the ‘craving’ which makes you want more. This is the basis for any addiction, good or bad.
Know the reward derived from this habit. As discussed above, the reward is more about the fulfilment and less about the achievement of healthy habit creation.
Here are some examples of ones I have formed:
Reading habit loop
Cue > boredom
Routine > reading (craving for knowledge)
Reward > fulfilment
Exercise Habit Loop
Cue > planned session
Routine > exercise program (craving for results)
Reward > feeling good
Meditation habit loop
Cue > waking up
Routine > timed meditations (craving for stillness)
Reward > clarity of mind
Now try your hand at identifying and creating your habit loops!
Recommended reading: ‘Power of habit’ by Charles Duhigg