Recently I have focused on blogging and reading on the science of habits. I have summarised my learnings in these eight evidence-based tips to create the habits you want & delete the ones you don’t:
1) Get clear on your values and roles life (e.g. coach, parent, employee, leader).
2) Set clear SMART goals for your planned habit changes (aligned to your values and roles).
3) Ensure you have social support to keep you on track. Ideally, have someone or a group/team to answer to.
4) Understand your cues, routines and rewards (for good and bad habits), try fiddling with them to stop bad habits & start good ones.
5) Piggyback new habits onto existing ones (e.g. floss after brushing your teeth).
6) Work with what you know about your personality, preferences and lifestyle to design the structure, tools etc that work best for you. Don’t waste your time or money on one-size-fits-all solutions.
7) Build regular self-care into your life to keep you on track.
8) If you miss a day – Keep Calm & Carry On!
Keen to know more?
Here is the fuller list with the links to relevant blogs and discussions.
Your intentions matter, as does environment and sometimes suddenly changing your environment (e.g. moving) changes habits.
Habit-forming is an asymptotic curve, i.e. there is some sort of tipping point of habity-ness. In this process, there are large individual differences.
The role of rewards in habits seems a bit unclear.
Missing ‘the odd’ day in habit formation is not big deal.
Charles Duhigg’s famous work focuses on the habit cycle: cue, routine & reward. He says understanding this is key to breaking bad habits and forming good ones. However, I wonder if the lack of agreement on the role of reward in habits undermines his theory? Although my personal experience in my 30 days to sobriety certainly support his thinking, as replacing ‘pour wine’, with read the book chapter, when the cravings kicked in, in the late afternoon, really helped.
Try and imbed new habits within existing routines but not at the start of them.
Traditional thinking was that our willpower (which is important in habits) would deplete or run out as the day/challenges went on. This theory has experienced some debunking, which leaves big gaps in the understanding of habits.
Proactivity helps, but that might be difficult to learn.
To achieve anything much in live (including good habits) self-care in emotional, social and physical domains matters.
Other things I have learned or vaguely remember include; social support is important, as is flexibility.
Yours as Ever,