• Jessica Kilinski

Reach your goals by hacking into your habits

Have you tried repeatedly to quit "bad" habits only to find yourself falling back into them? Or adding healthy habits that just won't stick? In Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit, he describes "The Habit Loop" and how it can help change your habits.

Here's how the loop works: You start with a trigger, which cues you to do the habit, which then provides you with a reward. Let's use drinking coffee as an example. The trigger or cue is getting out of bed. You go into the kitchen, brew your coffee, and drink it. As a reward, you get that lovely taste of rich, dark coffee (or perhaps you like yours light and creamy?) and that little jolt of caffeine running through your body.

The trick to breaking a habit is to find your trigger and figure out what your reward is, and then replacing the "bad" habit with a better habit that will provide a similar reward.

With some habits, the trigger and the reward may not be so obvious. If you have a habit you're trying to break, you may need to use a little awareness and journaling to figure them out. Duhigg uses a great example in his book of how he tried to break a habit of an afternoon cookie. I suggest taking about a week to just observe your habit. Don't try to change it, but just become aware of it without any judgement. Notice what happens leading up to it. Does it always occur at the same time of day? Or is there an emotion or event that leads to it? Notice how you're feeling before, during, and after. What is it you are seeking with this habit? Is it a feeling? A distraction? A taste? Take some notes, try not to judge yourself (we all have habits we want to change!), and find a pattern.

Once you've discovered your pattern, it's easiest to replace the "bad" habit with a better habit than it is to completely remove it. Find something that might give you a similar reward, and use it when you feel the urge. Prepare yourself for the trigger by having everything in place for this new habit.

If you're trying to add a new habit, you can also use the Habit Loop by attaching the new habit to an existing habit. One way I did this for myself was with a morning meditation practice (which, by the way, can help quite a bit with willpower!). I brew coffee every morning, so I decided to attach it to that habit. It's easy to forget about these new habits, so find a way to remind yourself. I used a sticky note on my coffee maker that said "Meditate". My trigger to meditate became turning on my coffee maker and my reward was my cup of coffee, along with the bliss I feel after meditating.

Do you have a habit you want to quit or add? Feel free to share in your comments!

Need some extra guidance with tackling those habits? Schedule your free Strategy Session with me to learn how I can help!

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