Habits have three basic parts: a cue, an action, and a reward. Repeating these three parts repeatedly makes an action ingrained in one's mind until it happens automatically. Recognizing and controlling habits means seeing these three parts in action and knowing how to handle them.
Below are ways to create new habits and remove bad ones.
Make Cues More Visible and Accessible #
Habits start with cues, so building new habits relies most on setting up cues. This means making the cues to start them as easily accessible as possible.
- Building healthy eating habits means making the healthy foods easy to reach and see in your kitchen.
- Doing more reading means keeping books nearby whenever a cue like boredom or extra time appears.
Add Extra Friction for Bad Habits #
On the flipside of the above tip, the cues for bag habits should be make inconvenient (but not totally impossible). The harder it is to find or respond to a cue, the weaker it gets and less likely it is to happen. They can still be called on if needed, but never enough to get in the way of new habits.
- Kicking a habit of too much video games means hiding any controllers, taking the batteries out of game systems, or covering the television with a tarp.
Stack New Habits on Existing Ones #
Some new habits can be combined with others so they're easier to build. This is good for enhancing neutral habits, or lessoning the effects of several bad habits.
- Someone with a habit of watching television could limit themselves to watching television when working out, such as with a tv on an exercise bike. This encourages people to exercise more, and soon ingrains the workout habit into the television one.
Keep Track of Habit Progress #
Habits takes a long time to build up or tear down. Keeping track of the ups and downs in building said habits helps in the long haul. It visualizes progress and creates a stronger feeling of committment to creating change.