5 for 5 blog – Making new changes stick (part 3) – Building habits

25 Jan


Good morning everyone.

Hopefully your efforts to stick with your changes in this new year are still going well. One of the key ways we can engage those changes longer term is by developing habits around them. Our habits drive much more of our daily life than we are even aware of. Habits form as a result of our brain trying to save energy for other important decisions and thus creating patterns that don’t consume as much energy. This is the basis of the last book I read over the holidays: “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

Per the book, any habit can be broken down to a three step loop:

  • There is a “Cue”, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode
  • The second step is the “Routine” which can be physical, emotional, or mental (i.e. jogging, or grabbing a snack)
  • Last is the “Reward”, the thing that tells your brain if this loop is worth remembering (i.e. a “like on social media, a piece of chocolate)

And while identifying those steps is great, the important part is to establish a craving. A craving is where you actually begin anticipating the reward at the first indication of the cue. If you can cultivate your habit to develop a craving it will keep the habit loop going.

Another very interesting part of the book which is relevant to all of us working to keep our new year’s resolutions/changes is the idea of willpower. And while I won’t ruin the book for you, the key to developing willpower, is to be intentional and preplan what you will do when you reach that decision point where you can decide to give up. A great example of this is setting your workout clothes out, right next to the bed. If you intend to go for a run, you nearly have to trip over your work out stuff to get up.

But habit development and change is not easy, but one you can choose. As Duhigg means near the end of the book:

To modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habit’s routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self conscious enough to use it.

In short, I highly recommend reading this book…it is packed with great information and research on exactly how we build, change, and maintain our habits. http://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/1400069289/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1422194370

I hope you are staying with your new year’s goals. May be you need to find your tribe…..may be you need to take into account what you stand to lose……or may be simply you need to identify your cue, routine, and reward. Good luck in making those changes stick.

Psst…..if you want to find more great resources on habits from the author, Charles Duhigg, please visit: http://charlesduhigg.com/additional-resources/

Here’s this week’s 5 for 5:

Stacking Habits: How to Finally Stick to Your Morning Routine – by Benjamin Spall – via 99U


SO WHAT: Build momentum for change, by challenging yourself to do something (exercise, floss, etc.) for just five minutes. You can do anything for five minutes, right?

Tags: Resolutions, Change


Fighting Distraction: A Freelancer’s Toolkit for Focused Work – by Michael Tunney – via Contently


SO WHAT: If increasing your focus at work is a new year’s resolution you are trying to stick with, this article has some great recommendations

Tags: Resolutions, Change, Focus


How to Trick Yourself into Doing Tasks You Dread – by Alexandra Samuel – via Harvard Business Review


SO WHAT: Setting up a reward system of varying degrees can help not only get through difficult tasks but help build the habit of perseverance for the longer term.

Tags: Resolutions, Change


Failure imagined (24 variations) – by Seth Godin – via @thisissethsblog


SO WHAT: There are so many ways to fail as it is put here, but the choice is whether to do nothing or take the risk, despite what failure you think may be ahead.

Tags: startsomething


14 Simple Productivity Resolutions for 2015 – by Young Entrepreneur Council – via Inc.


SO WHAT: Even more tips on making your day more productive. I love #2 – 15 minute meetings

Tags: Resolutions, Change, Productivity


All the best,