Have you been working on a new positive habit? I hope so. Just imagine if you worked on one every two months for a year. That would sum up to six new good habits a year and thirty in five years! Wow! What would your life look like then? Less stressful and more enjoyable, I imagine.
In the previous post, On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! Add a Trigger to Help Stick Your New Habit, I shared the most effective way to shift a habit is to determine and maintain the old cue and reward when creating a new habit, so that you are only changing the routine. Remember this?
We then discussed cues and triggers. Today we move into the importance of rewards which helps train the brain to want and even crave (at a safe level) this new good habit.
Let’s face it, this blog is not the place for the quick fix. However, good news comes from Robert Puller who said:
“Good habits, once established, are just as hard to break as are bad habits.”
New good habits are not easy but they are worth it! While we cannot create a craving around something we do not want, it is possible to train the brain to want what benefits us. In the informative article, Hack Your Brain to Use Cravings To Your Advantage by Thorin Klosowski at www.LifeHacker.com Assistant Professor Wilhelm Hofmann from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business shares:
“If one wants to be successful with regard to a certain goal, my suggestion would be to try to “listen” to the rewarding aspects of the activity one wants to cultivate (e.g., the feeling of accomplishment after a good workout or trying to appreciate the taste of veggies and other healthy food) and thus to work towards “re-programming” the mind to develop reward signals toward these activities, perhaps even turning these into “good” cravings.”
I have to admit that trying to appreciate the taste of healthy food is not the easiest. What you CAN do is acknowledge the accomplishment of another win or developing self-discipline. Imagine the future feeling good in a bathing suit on an island beach instead of overweight in the hospital hooked up to machines. As you continue to acknowledge your progress, wins, and ability to overcome tied to your new habit, belief in your abilities and motivation to continue rises. There are a few key elements:
– Consistency: The more consistent you are in acting on cue to perform the new habit and then experiencing the reward, the more your brain will work to make it an automatic routine.
– Keeping the Reward the Same: The possibilities of success go up if you can keep the reward the same, and just change the habit itself.
Example: At 3pm you have a chocolate treat while chatting with co-workers in the office kitchen. 3pm is the cue and you have discovered you enjoy the short chat with co-workers for a brief rejuvenation break. You simply change the chocolate treat to something that serves you better.
– Experiment to Discover the True Reward: You may have to experiment some in the first week to diagnose the true reward that has the ability to become a craving. What is the big pay off of this habit?
So add your reward and begin developing a craving for your new, good habit! And share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments below.