Creating a routine for yourself and changing your bad habits into good ones will allow you to be more productive and successful. In the past, I would never set a schedule or routine for myself. My mind was all over the place, and I could never plan for things or get anything done. After committing to a routine and encouraging healthy habits, I am now able to accomplish goals and maintain productivity throughout my day.
There are tons of benefits to having regular habits and staying on a schedule. Many successful people have a routine that they stick to – they go to sleep at the same time, wake up at the same time, and even eat their meals and do their other activities at the same time each day. They have a consistent schedule that they set and then continue to follow.
When you do things on a daily basis, you will become better at them and also more efficient as well.
Regularly doing your set tasks will become natural and allow you to get them done faster. The upside to this is, you will have more time to focus on the things that matter. When you have a plan, you are conserving your brain power by not overthinking each little task that you do. It may sound silly, but spending time and energy on making small decisions about what to eat or what to wear can start to take away from your available energy.
We all have good and bad habits. A good habit, for example, would be going to the gym every day. If this is one of your habits, you’re sticking with it because it helps you stay fit, feel better, and have more energy. But how can we change bad habits like eating fast food every day? Well, every habit you have, whether it’s positive or negative in your life, follows the same three-step pattern. In Charles Duhigg’s best-selling book, The Power of Habit, he refers to these three steps I’m going to share with you as the “Habit Loop.”
In this book, Duhigg refers to the three steps of forming habits as:
1. Cue (or reminder) – The trigger that initiates the behavior
2. Routine – The actual behavior itself and the action you take
3. Reward – The benefit you receive from the action you take
So, let’s say you have your good habit in place of going to the gym every day. Your alarm goes off in the morning, you wake up, and this triggers you and tells you that you have to go to the gym. You go and complete your routine for the day, and the reward you receive afterward is that great feeling and rush of serotonin. Now, a bad habit, for example, might be that you go to a donut shop when you wake up in the morning. Your body reminds you that you’re hungry, your routine is that you go and eat the donut, and your reward comes from fulfilling that need for a sugar rush.
As you can see, both good and bad habits follow this same pattern. Once we become aware of our habits and start to understand them, we have the ability to change them. Write down your habits, see which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to remove. Recognize the cues for why you do them, and then make a plan to change the things that you do not want in your life. Change takes time and is not easy, so keep in mind that you will fail at times – you just have to keep going and working at it.
With patience and dedication, you can reshape any habit into what you want it to be to serve you better. Charles Duhigg’s golden rule of habit is to keep the same cue and same reward but to replace the routine within the habit. This may sound confusing, but I’ll explain it to you in this four step process:
Identify the routine, experiment with different rewards, isolate the cue, and have a plan.
If you go to Starbucks every afternoon to get coffee and a donut, this is considered your routine. Your reward is what’s satisfying your craving, and this can be tricky to understand because sometimes we don’t necessarily know what our craving is or what’s driving our behavior. Is your reward the coffee, the donut, the energy you receive, or maybe the time away to socialize or relax? Figure this out by adjusting your reward.
When you go to Starbucks, instead of getting the donut, just get coffee, then try socializing for 10 minutes. Try going for a walk when your typical “coffee break” time comes, and see if that fulfills that craving of energy or time away. Take the time to discover which activity is going to satisfy your craving, and isolate the cue. What are you thinking the moment you decide to go to Starbucks? Write your thoughts down – do you feel hungry, bored, tired, etc.?
Have a plan in place so that you can decide exactly what you will do when your craving hits, and then move forward from there. This four step process will take time, but once you can identify the cue and implement your plan, it will work. Habits create our destiny, and many people don’t live the way that they want to but aren’t sure how to fix the problem.
Once we know that we can change our bad habits, we have the power to create any good habit that we want.
Think about the six steps and try to implement them into your own life. Whether you’re training to become a star athlete or you’re starting a new company, become a champion in whatever you do. The power of habit is huge, but changing regular routines and habits can’t happen overnight. Follow the process and continuously work at it and eventually, you can make lasting changes. Take the time to evaluate your life and create habits that allow you to become the greatest and most successful version of yourself.