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Create Yourself A Habit Loop

You all know I am not a fan of resolutions- they often aren’t properly planned out, and fade too quickly. What I am a fan of though, is creating good habits, and more specifically, habit loops. A habit loop, according to researchers, is a neurological loop behind every habit.

A habit loop has 3 parts:

  • a cue
  • a routine
  • and a reward.

You need to be able to identify each of the 3 components of each habit to work on changing it. The great news is that because you have implemented a particular habit in your life, you can also change it. Practically everything we do is habitual. It is in our nature to follow programmed patterns of behaviour when we do all sorts of things. We learn a sequence of steps that result in a certain outcome and then we stick with it (often without giving it any conscious thought).

Understanding and reshaping habits:
1) Identify the routine (the behaviour you want to change)
2) Experiment with the rewards
3) Isolate the cue (the thing that triggers the habitual behaviour)
4) Have a plan

The reward has to do with satisfying a craving and giving a pleasurable feeling.

Identify the circumstances that lead to your habit. They can usually be broken down to 5 triggers; location, time, emotional state, other people, immediate preceding action. Take note of these 5 things every time the urge hits and look for patterns and consistent cues. Eg. Chocolate = being home alone. If you are constantly doing the same thing eg. Overeating because you are feeling stressed, you need to address why you are stressed and look for ways to overcome or reduce it.

Plan – When you know your cue (eg home alone) and the reward you crave (lift your mood) you can make a plan to short-circuit the loop and create a new one. A simple habit loop hack is to switch out the routine for something new (substitute chocolate for a hot drink or something healthier). All you need to do is to decide consciously to exchange your routine to something more positive and constructive. A great tool is to write your plan as an affirmation and keep it in a place where it is visible and present. Keep it as simple as “Every day when (the cue happens) I will do (the new routine you wish to implement to replace the old habit)”.

So, what habit are you wanting to change? We are here to help you work on it!