What is a habit?

The theme for December is HABITS. Why? Well, a couple of reasons. The first is that this is the part where working on Mindwalker Training becomes a habit for me. I work on the site most days, spending anywhere from an hour to all day typing. It’s becoming automatic – I sit down, open the browser and think about what I need to do today.

It’s also because I’ll be taking a break over Christmas and New Year. I’ll still work on the site, but it will be away from my computer. (Mostly I’ll be developing blueprints for exciting new courses). This means that I’ll lose the habit and will need to get it back in 2017. I’m not worried because I know a lot of tricks to help with this – tricks that I’ll share with you.

The second reason is that December comes right before January. How do you create a New Year’s Resolution and stick to it? Personally, I don’t like NYRs (any time is the perfect time to begin fresh) but if you do, that’s cool. A Resolution is a habit – one that most people fail to stick with. Learning about habits and the best way to create them will help you as you charge into the New Year.

Now, I could tell you what a habit is and how it works. But why go to the effort, when the hard work has already been done for me:

There’s a reason why Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, is on my list of favourites. It’s a captivating collection of anecdotes that convey the science behind habits. It covers how they form, how to break them and why they exist in the first place. It discusses personal habits, organisational habits and everything between. Even if you learn nothing, you’ll be entertained along the way.

As the video says, there are three parts to a habit: the cue, the behaviour and the reward. You can’t create a new habit or change a current one without understanding this model.

  • The cue is what triggers the habit. It could be a place, time, event, thought, memory, emotion or sense.
  • The behaviour is the action that you take in response to the cue. It could be a physical action, like running away, or something more abstract, like suppressing a thought.
  • The reward is what you get out of the behaviour. Chances are it will be some small pleasure or avoidance of discomfort.

This is what a habit is – these three parts working together. To change any one of them is to completely change the habit. How to do that is the topic of the next post.

This post is part of Habits Month over at Mindwalker Training. Join in the conversation – you never know what you’ll learn.

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