🤯 How to change your habits with the habit loop theory ("The Power of Habit summary")

“Sometimes, habits are so ingrained in our daily life that we hardly ever notice them”. Charles Duhigg - The power of habit author

In order to improve my writing and your reading, this part of the tutorial is written totally in English. Also, because I read the book in English.

I don’t want to bother you with the details, but let me tell you this book is an absolute page turner. I strongly recommend you to read it.

Without further ado, let’s dive into how to change a bad habit.

Firstly, we need to understand how habits work. Actually, It is easier than you might expect.
Habits follow a simple pattern. It’s called the habit loop. Let’s break it down into parts.

  1. Cue
  2. Craving
  3. Routine
  4. Reward

The first one, is the cue. This is what’s trigger your behavior. Our brain builds up habits to maximize space and minimize effort. That’s why the habits reside under the unconscious veil of the basal ganglia. Every time your brain perceives this cue through any of your senses, the routine starts. The cue can be anything. A smell, a feeling, a situation or a place. Anything.

The cue alone is not enough to trigger a habit. You need a craving. Do you know that feeling of a savoring a meal before eating it? That’s a craving. You don’t want the food, you are looking for that feeling that the food initiates inside you. It seems obvious to you now that the craving here is the cookie, right? Wait for a minute.

Then, the routine comes into the scene. For example, when you pass near a jar of cookies, a craving for the cookies emerges and triggers your behavior: eating that cookie, despite you may be trying to stick to a healthy new diet. Almost without realizing it.

So now, picture this situation: every day, around 3.45 pm, you stand up from your workplace and go to the kitchen. You grab a cookie and start eating it while chatting with your wife.
What do you believe the craving is? Is it the cookie? Is getting distracted from your tasks? Or perhaps just stretching your legs after spending a long period seated. Maybe all of them. Or none.

All in all, the point is you need to inquire in this matter.

The craving leads to the final component of the loop: the reward. It’s what you take to stop the urge that the craving creates. Following the same example, you’ll have to isolate the reward.
Try to discover if it’s the sugar boost that the cookie provides, the distraction from work that chatting with someone gives you or just the need for a physical sensation (stretching your legs and going for a walk).

When you’re done with that, it’s time to make a plan to change those old habits.

The first step is to define the routine. The behavior you want to change. You might be getting out of shape thanks to that daily cookie you eat. So let’s say that you consider it unhealthy and want to modify that conduct.

Step 2 would be to experiment with rewards. As I was previously saying, you need to recognize what the urge that triggers your behavior is for.

Explore for a few days the different options. After each activity, jot down on a piece of paper the first three things that come into your mind when you get back to your workplace. It can be feelings, sensations, emotions, any reflection.

Then, set an alarm for fifteen minutes. When it goes off, do you still feel the urge for the cookie? If it’s gone, that means that the previous reward you tried was the one in this habit loop. In case it’s still there, you can imagine what to do. Keep working on that, of course.

Step 3 centers on isolating the cue. Almost all cues fit in these 5 big categories:

  • location
  • time
  • emotional state
  • other people
  • preceding action

When the urge arises, fill those categories with what corresponds. Then, you probably will start recognizing patterns. If so, you have found your cue.

The final step, consist is writing a plan. It’s time to put hands to work.
Suppose that you discovered the cue was the time. Every day at 3:45 pm your behavior triggers. You also found out that the reward and craving that fuel this conduct is not the cookie. It’s the sugar boost it provides. So it’s easily interchangeable for an apple or another fruit.

Now, you just set an alarm at 3:45 pm to remind yourself to stick to this plan. Instead of the cookie, you go for an apple

In the beginning, you may feel reluctant to doing it. That’s why you need a bit of discipline in order to stick to it. With some practice and time, you’ll eventually do it without thinking.

Hope it helps you change your habits. True is that when you start being more conscious, you start realizing about how much of our day we are in an automatic-mode, doing things without actually thinking. That’s not necessarily bad, but it can be if we don’t turn our behaviors into habits purposely.

I would like to end up this tutorial with a question to you. Now that you are conscious of how our habits work, what are you going to do about it?

Link to the book: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1viD5dZV6-1NRcQ3fcy2ZgPJAoJTy76j3/view?usp=sharing

PD: se acepta feedback sobre el tutorial en todos sus aspectos. Si te gusto, dejame un like 😃

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