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What triggers your bad habits & how can you change?

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I recently read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

It’s all about the habits we have and how to change the negative ones to positive. There are lots of really interesting examples of people who have done just that with impactful results.

If you recognise some habits in your life that you’d like to change, I’d recommend reading it. The stories are interesting and the book doesn’t get dry as sometimes can be the case with similar types of books.

Notice your habit triggers

One of the things he talks about is really noticing what it is that triggers a particular habit. If you have some bad habits: smoking, worrying, eating junk food, overspending, procrastination…try noticing your triggers. Keep a note of these and the more you are aware of them the more empowered you are to  tackle them.

Change your habit

According to Duhigg, the trick is not to try and stop the habit but change it. As you can imagine, trying to relearn a pattern of behaviour is really hard once it’s become a habit. But if the circumstances around the habit stay the same then it’s possible to just swap the habit for a better one. Apparently, as long as the trigger stays the same and the reward at the end stays the same, then just swapping the habit in the middle is much more achievable.

So, for example, a stressful situation triggers the habit of eating some junk food. The reward is the body raising dopamine levels in the brain making you feel good instead of stressed.

If, with the same stressful stimulus, you choose to go for a 10 minute walk around the block instead of eating junk food, you can successfully change the habit. The trigger has stayed the same and so has the reward (feel-good endorphins being released by the brain). This is a key point to make behaviour change stick.

You can change your brain

Doing this over a period of time actually changes the brain helping you keep to the new habit in the long-term. 

I’ll be writing another post on habits in which I’ll tell you what the number one rule to successfully change your habits is. I’ll also let you know what the book says is key to not falling back to old habits when things get stressful.

In the meantime why not take your own little challenge to notice what and when you’re triggered?

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  • […] In my previous post I explain that the author says it’s important not to try and get rid of your bad habits but to swap out the habit for a new one (so the circumstances around the habit being triggered and the outcome/reward of taking the action stay the same, but the actual routine changes). However he acknowledges that this only happens to a point. When you have a bad day and things get tough, falling back into the old habits is an easy move, no matter how much you’ve changed your routine. […]

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