So you read my article on ways to improve your life starting today. Now you want to learn how to build new habits?
Don’t you worry. I got ya, bud.
I think before I teach you how to build new habits, I would like to start with a story.
You live in a village. You need to visit another village in order to trade supplies with them, but there is a forest between you two. Trading with this other village is vital to survival.
In order to trade with them, you have to go all the way around this forest and the travel takes many hours.
One day, you think to yourself, there has to be an easier way.
So you grab a machete and decide you’re going to chop your way through the forest all the way through until you reach the other village.
This is a difficult task, and it takes you roughly the amount of time that it takes to walk around the forest. However, once you have made it through, there is a very rough, but walkable path created.
The more you take this route, the more it smooths out and is easier to walk through.
Eventually after this route is traveled many times it becomes a very accessible road that both villages regularly use.
What Does This Have To Do With Our Brains?
Much like the example above, our brains create what are called neuron pathways.
Whenever we perform an action like writing, drawing, speaking, exercising, or thought patterns, it creates and strengthens these neuron pathways.
This is vital to our intelligence as well as survival as humans.
This is also the basis of how habits form.
See, habits work in three main sections. These are:
A trigger can be anything, really. This can range from, but is not limited to emotions, and visual and audio cues.
The routine is the set of actions you take once you see this trigger and the reward is largely the feeling you get once you perform the action.
A good example of how this works includes smoking.
A trigger can be feeling stress. When someone who smokes feels stress their brain sees that as a cue and their neuron pathway that has been strengthened through years of smoking creates an urge for them to smoke.
They perform the routine of taking a cigarette out of their pack, lighting it and inhaling.
Finally, they get a reward of feeling relaxed as they smoke their cigarette.
Eventually habits become something we do subconsciously and we won’t even realize we are doing it.
How Can We Use This Knowledge?
Knowing how our brain works in the sense of habits, we can manipulate our stimulus and routines to, in a sense, hack our brains.
This Is How We Can Create New Habits
If we know that habits work in a trigger, routine, reward system, we can create our own habits.
The first step is deciding what the issue or goal is. We need to establish the why.
Let’s say that we’re in college and our grades are not as high as we would like them to be. We want to improve our grades.
Now that we have establish the why, we can move on to the next step
Step two: establishing the what
We know our why is the improvement of our grades. Logically, our what should be studying. So our answer for step two will be to start studying.
Easy so far right? Okay, moving right along.
Step three: Assigning a trigger.
Assigning a trigger for studying to improve our grades can be nearly anything, but for the sake of example, lets make our trigger getting home from school.
Step four: Establishing a routine.
Now what we have to do is create a routine for when we encounter our trigger. When we get home, we can brew a coffee, sit down, turn our phone off and start creating notes. more on how to effectively study in a future post.
Step five: Establish a reward.
Now, here’s where I say the reward will be the ability to comprehend what you have studied and become smarter. However, that doesn’t exactly appeal to everyone and I believe coupling that with another reward is more effective.
You can use candy, or if you enjoy working out, you can save your workout for after you study and use that as your reward system.
You must be consistent with your triggers, routines and rewards.
Do Not Get Discouraged.
One important thing to understand is habits do not form overnight. In fact, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for new habits to form, with the average being 66 days.
Sounds like a long time and a lot of hard work in an uncomfortable zone right?
Well just be consistent, I promise that it will be worth it.
Building habits is not all or nothing. There will be days that you fall short, this is normal. This is human.
The important thing is to be as consistent as possible and not let these shortfalls happen frequently.
Once you build this habit, you will be able to perform these automatically and you can create an unlimited amount of habits. This is a key of improving yourself.
However, I highly suggest focusing on building one habit at a time to maximize effectiveness.
What did you enjoy most about this article?
What habits do you intend to build, and if this article helped you, what habits were you able to create?
Comment below and let me know!