Thursday, 10 November 2016

How to form a Habit - Routines that stick

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Mona : Someone is late to the office today again.
Sona: I wanted to be on time. But I switched off the alarm and slept off.
Mona: The same story again huh ?
Sona: What can I do about it? I have been struggling so hard to wake up early. But I am just not able to do that.
Mona: I can empathize with you. Even I keep missing out on my workouts.
Sona: Is there no trick at all for making good habits?
Can you relate yourself to them? If yes, then this article is for you. In order to stick to a routine where you do the act subconsciously, you need to make it a habit. There is nothing called as habits that stick. If a routine is being done subconsciously over a period of time, it is already called a habit. Habits are the ones which are already stuck. You don't need any special glue to stick them again. But how to form a habit in the first place ?


There are 3 R's for a habit, according to Charles Duhigg, the author of Power of Habit.

REMINDER:

In order to start something, you need a reminder. You eat when you are hungry. Why do you do this? Because hunger acts as a reminder that it is time for you to eat. In a similar way, for every habit you want to make, find a reminder. There are 5 types of reminders.

TIME:

HabitTime as Reminder
PaintI paint on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Leave for officeWhen the clock strikes 9, I will leave for office
Pay billsWhen it is 5th of the month, I pay all my bills

PEOPLE:

HabitPeople as Reminder
Ask about tabletsWhenever I see my grandparents, I will ask them if they have taken their tablets
SmileWhenever I come across someone I know, I smile at them
Make conversationsWhenever I come across my neighbours, I will make a conversation
Deep breathingBefore I meet my boss, I will take deep breaths and go.

PLACE:

HabitPlace as Reminder
Buy fruitsWhenever I am in the supermarket, I will buy fruits
Self-talkWhenever I am in front of the mirror, I will do positive talk with myself
Read booksWhenever I am commuting or standing in queues, I will read book
Drink waterWhenever I am in the kitchen, I will drink water

EVENT:

HabitEvent as Reminder
WriteWhenever I open my laptop, I will write my article
Eat healthyAs soon as I eat lunch, I eat fennel seeds which helps in digestion
Learn a new languageAs soon as I reach home, I spend 5 minutes on Duolingo

EMOTIONS:

HabitEmotions as Reminder
JournalEvery time I feel an emotion, I will write down about it
Eat healthyEvery time I feel craving, I eat healthy food
Make new hobbyEvery time I feel low, I will work on something new

ROUTINE:

Start the habit in the smallest way possible and then slowly increase it. If the routine is not the smallest amount into which you can break into, and it requires your will power to execute it, then you might not make it into a habit.
If you want to start reading a book, just open the book each day. The one paragraph a day and then probably a few pages a day. If you want to work-out, just wear shoes every day first. Then walk up to the gym centre. Then this does not feel much of a deal, then start working out.
Routine becomes a habit only when it is done in a sustainable way. I had a tough time making newspaper reading as a habit. But now I go to the newspaper vendor every day as a habit and not because I have to go get it. That is the power of habit and starting small.
To make the routine sustainable, you can start it as a 30-day challenge. A 30-day challenge never means that you have to do it for 30 days and leave it. It has to be done forever, but the 30-day challenge serves as an initial external motivation which has to eventually get converted to the subconscious routine. You can also refer to this article to see how to break habits into smaller action items.

REWARD:

For working so hard in the routine step, you need a reward for the routine to stay. Reward need not be treating yourself each time. It can something as small as praising yourself or putting a tick mark in your daily checklist. Or just feeling happy about the positive effects of the habit in your life. I have been using habit loop tracker application on the android device to track my habits. It acts as a reward system for me.
Go ahead and make a list of habits you want to make. And prioritize two of them for the first one month. You can choose two keystone habits for the first month.
Happy Habit Forming !


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