No matter what your less-than-desirable habit is, experts tell us you can work to eliminate it if you understand why the habit exists.

Charles Duhigg, the author of a book titled The Power of Habit, says to try these three steps:

  1. Uncover the Cue. The next time you are reaching for a can of soda, a piece of candy, or the newest shopping catalog you received, make a list of everything that might have triggered your impulse to indulge.  Write down the following:
  • Time of day
  • What you were thinking about
  • What you were feeling
  • Where you were
  • Who you were with, or who was near you

By doing this, you will begin to see a pattern in what makes you want to indulge your habit.

  1. Rework Your Routine. Once the above triggers are identified, you can begin to retrain your brain to follow a new – better for you – habit.  For instance, if unhealthy soda is your go-to thing, go talk to a coworker, or jazz up some seltzer water or have a plain iced tea. Making a healthier choice, whether it’s a food or an action, will soon train your brain to follow this activity and accept it as the norm.
  1. Allow a Little Reward. Duhigg promotes slowly backing from the habit, rather than going cold turkey – taking “baby steps.” I think it depends on the habit and the person. For instance, if you are trying to eliminate soda, have half a cup, and pour the rest down the drain.  If you opt to try this, I’d add that you really need to enjoy the half cup, and then wash it down with some water to reset your taste buds.  This can work, too, for things like catalog online shopping.  Set your alarm to allow a specified period of time – say 5 – 10 minutes – and then shut down the site.  It gives you a quick break, but not hours of shopping.

Habits form because our brains get used to something and our bodies like easy and repetitive.  We can retrain both our brain and our body to get used to something else.  How do you think the habit formed in the first place?  It sounds easier than it really is, but give it a try if you are trying to change the way you eat, drink, smoke, shop, etc. 

Return to your Full Vitality!