Every person has certain habits that they follow, and there could essentially be nothing wrong with them. Some can be for beneficial and for health purposes – for example, brushing your teeth or combing your hair. But there can also be habits which aren’t necessarily good for you, like biting your nails, having too many cups of coffee a day, and going to bed too late. Breaking these non-beneficial habits can be difficult, especially if you’ve been practicing them for a long time. But knowing how habits form in the first place can ease the process.
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There is a simple 3-step pattern that every habit follows. The idea of the 3 R’s is one of the main ones:
- Reminder: the trigger, or cue, that initiates the conscious behavior
- Routine: the behavior associated with the trigger; the action you take
- Reward: the benefit you gain from doing the behavior, which makes the habit stick
With the idea of the 3 R’s in mind, I have listed some helpful tips to get you to break that stubborn habit.
Remember that triggers are the first step in developing a habit. Knowing what these triggers behind your habitual behaviors are, are the first step in removing them.
Come to realize if your habit follows any patterns by tracking it for several days.
Take Notes Of:
- Where does the behavior take place?
- What do you feel when this happens?
- Is anyone else involved?
Let’s say you want to stop staying up past 10:00 PM. After a few days of tracking your behavior, you realize you tend to stay up later if you have a soda before bed or are scrolling aimlessly on your phone. But you go to bed earlier if you drink water instead or read a book.
You decide to start drinking water and turn-off your phone by 9:00 PM. Removing the trigger — drinking soda or scrolling aimlessly — makes it harder to carry out this routine of staying up too late.
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You might realize that replacing your unwanted behavior with a new one could be easier than stopping it completely.
Let’s say you want to stop getting McDonald’s while you go on your lunch break. If you simply get in your car every day and drive by it, you are likely to fall back into the habit when you are hungry. But if you bring in a sandwich and fruit cup for lunch, you are not likely to go out and buy lunch.
As you repeat the new behavior, the impulse to follow the new routine evolves. Eventually, after you see rewards from the new habit — less money spent and a healthier option — the desire to keep doing this beneficial behavior might outweigh the urge to go after the old, unwanted habit.