Make or Break: Habits

top tips Jul 20, 2021

A habit is something we do so often that it becomes something we can achieve without too much thought into what we’re doing. Research suggests that around 43% of our day-to-day behaviours consist of habits, so they’re a much bigger part of our lives than you might think. They form much of our lives, from our personalities to the things we think are important (also known as values).

Something we can take from that is that not all habits are bad! Can you tie your shoelaces without thinking hard about it? Do you make your bed when you get out of it? Do you put litter in the bin once you’ve finished with it? These are all examples of good habits that we can all do without much thought. What other things can you do without thinking? Have a look at your morning routine and see if you can identify all the habits!

Equally, though, not all the habits we have are good. If we want to make a positive change in our lives, a great place to start is looking at your habits. Do they align with the person you want to be? And if not, how do you change them?

In an interview with Behavioural Scientist, Wendy Wood is quoted saying that “it can take two to three months to form a simple habit—to make something so automated that you don’t have to think about it.” This means it will likely take a long time to break habits, so our first tip is to go easy on yourself! You won’t unlearn a behaviour over night! You can do it. You’ve probably done it before without even realising!

Once you believe you can break it, your next move should be to identify what caused the bad habit? Maybe it was the easiest way around a problem, or the behaviour that required the least effort. As humans, we love to make things easier for ourselves, and that can form bad habits like procrastination.

The next step is to identify how it helps you. Once you evaluate the consequences to your actions, you can begin to pin down the actions that you might need to change to make or break the habit. Struggling to focus during online learning? Maybe you keep scrolling through Instagram instead of working at your computer. What would you change about that situation? Do you need to create a new habit of putting your phone down, or do you perhaps break the habit of bringing your phone with you to your workspace?

The reward that comes with changing a habit has a massive impact over your motivations. Try to keep in mind that some positive changes are hard to make because you’re breaking the mould of following the path of least resistance. This means that your new habit might seem like more work, but if you evaluate the reward you might get from putting the effort in, it can motivate you to make the change! (You can read more about Motivation here)

Evaluate your habits today and find out what small differences you can start to make now that will have a positive impact on your future!

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