If you have come across this page maybe you were like me, looking for a quick-fix solution and trying to convince yourself that building habit should be easy.
In an ideal world, we all want to recreate the habits that other people have. We all wanted to adopt those little things that they do each day that creates their best version. But the truth is, habit building is “EASY” BUT “IT TAKES SOME TIME”. I personally call it “easy” since habits are all those mundane things that you normally do each day, these are all those task that our subconscious mind don’t bother to decide to. These can be those tasks:
- Taking a bath
- Drinking water after eating
- Brushing your teeth
- Looking at your Social media each morning
- Eating using utensils
- and many more…
These are just some of the most trivial things that we don’t even bother to decide to on a daily basis. But the truth is, it took you years and years of your existence for you to develop this habit and to make it to a point where you don’t even have to think about it.
Those are habits; EASY BUT TAKE SOME TIME.
Habit building follows the concept of compounding interest, that each tiny movements or actions you did will accumulate and make up for something enormous in the future.
I am not trying to exaggerate it, but you have to remember that who you are today are the results of the small choices that you did in the past. You are a product of your own habits and small tiny choices that accumulated over the years of your existence.
However, this put us to the question that “Why is it difficult to adopt new habits?” If in the first place, we are already a person created and formed by our own habits.
There are three possible reason for that:
- You don’t have any idea how Habit forms or being structured.
- You are doing too much and expect too soon, setting yourself up for failure; and
- Lack of commitment
The Habit Structure
According to the book Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg, habits have the following sequence or what was called as the “Habit loop”;
- The cue or trigger – This is the part of the loop wherein it serves as a signal for you to perform the certain action.
- The action – Once the cue or trigger has been identified this is the specific action you will do. This is the specific action that can I either be good or bad, this is basically your habit.
- The reward – This is the part of the loop where your brain receives some chemical such as dopamine (also known as “happy hormones”). This is the part where our brain allows our body to register the action and record it in our body as part of our habit.
To put this into context let’s have a more precise example:
- Brushing your teeth
Cue: The tastes of food in your mouth after eating
Action: Brushing your teeth
Reward: Menthol or fresh sensation after brushing your teeth
- Working out
Cue: Wearing your gym clothes
Action: Working out
Reward: Dopamine strikes – wherein you feel healthier and feel good about yourself.
Why do we need to know this? Simple answer is that if you wanted to break any habit or create a new one you need to find a trigger and a reward for this. Once you have identified this you will have a more structure and systematic way of building the habit that you want.
This is the common problem, when we try to create a new habit, we don’t even have a specific system on how we will do it. We often just try to do it for a while then it is all gone afterwards. You NEED to identify the CUE of your desired habit and use it as your trigger. It can be the time, the specific action, or circumstances. Anything that will remind you that you have to do the action.
This will naturally flow once the specific habit becomes part of you. But during the creation of a new habit you must understand and remind yourself of this structure for you to stick more on your habit building.
Motivation and Planning
We always thought that when you decided to stick to a new habit, it is just deciding to do it. This is partly true, but it is not just like that. You have to plan it in a way that it will be easier for you to do it and stick with it.
The problem with us is we don’t treat habits as something we wanted to live forever, we often ask the questions “How long does it take for me to build a new habit?”. This question just simply don’t understand what is an habit. The definition of habit is action that you do regularly which you don’t have to think much and has already became part of your lifestyle.
That’s why not all diet plan works, before the actual diet plan it all should start first on your mindset. We often do TOO MUCH AND EXPECT TOO SOON for a short period of time that we ENDED GIVING UP.
We have to understand that habits are the small actions you do regularly. That it will came at some point that it will become part of your lifestyle. A clear example is working out, if you decided to do it and kill yourself on the first day or two and expect great results in a week, you are just setting yourself for a failure.
Once that motivation wave has gone off you will start stumbling and be eaten by your own expectation until you’ve completely decided not to do it. This was also the reason why we commonly do our new year’s resolution every January or first quarter of the year.
We always expect too much and too soon with everything. We neglect to see the bigger picture that IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME and all you must do is just stick to it on a regular basis.
This is the most crucial if you want to create or build a new habit and this is where we are all guilty. Being committed to something takes a lot of “Why” and the “Burning desire to do something”. And if we don’t have any of these, we will have a hard time to continue moving forward.
It is either we find this “Burning desire” or that reason why you wanted to do something for you to be fully committed. Contrary to what we understand about commitment that it was all about the mind. We have to understand that commitment is mainly action driven. It may seem that your motivation is the driving factor to becoming more committed but the truth is commitment is the result of multiple continues actions (a somewhat snowball effect). It does not solely depend on your feelings, whether you have or you don’t have the motivation to do it.
You have to show up each day if you wanted to build those habits.
You have to choose taking an action EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE DOING IT. Never ever allow that commitment to be driven by your motivation solely. Always think that the single choice you did today will build the momentum for you to build the habit.
So what does it take to build a new habit? The answer is simple, you have to be present and take little actions regularly without expecting too soon and doing too much. You need to understand that you should start small and slowly. You need to realize that if you wanted to build a new habit everything should be planned, and you need to SHOW UP each day. NEVER EVER RELY SOLELY ON YOUR MOTIVATION, ALWAYS CHOOSE TO TAKE ACTION.