If you are reading this post today, you must a habit you wish to break. May it be being lazy quitting smoking or eating junk food. There is always a way out.
For ease, let me first explain the terms Conscious mind, Subconscious mind, and Unconscious mind.
A conscious mind is where you think and perform an action with full alertness. Example: driving for the first couple of times or cooking a dish for the first time.
A subconscious mind is your body’s autopilot mode. Here you perform an activity but you don’t need to think about it or it doesn’t require your full attention. Example: putting off the morning alarm or tying your shoelaces.
An unconscious state is when a person faints or is in deep sleep. In this case, a person doesn’t really respond to any sound or even shaking.
Habits are a set of actions performed unconsciously. Or I could say, habits are your body’s autopilot mode that you have programmed. They accumulate or are registered by your conscious mind enough times to be finally pushed into the subconscious mind.
Once the activity reaches the subconscious mind, it is now in the programmed autopilot mode.
We generally start to build a certain hobby or a habit but fail to keep it going for long probably because we do not see the results soon enough and get demotivated.
But let me state here that every activity has a threshold point before the results are observed.
Let me give you an example: Imagine that you have an ice-cube laid on the table. The room is cold enough for you to even see your breath.
Now I gradually begin to increase the temperature of the room to
Twenty-Six degrees – yet no change
Twenty-Seven degrees – yet no change
Twenty-Eight degrees – yet no change
Twenty-Nine degrees – yet no change
Thirty degrees – yet no change
Thirty-One degrees – now the ice begins to melt.
Therefore, a visible change occurred! The eyes of the word will only recon and say, at thirty-one degrees, the ice began to melt, but what goes unnoticed is the time and temperature affecting the ice cube from twenty-six to thirty degrees, time and energy required to reach a certain threshold.
Now let’s talk about certain tactics to measure, improvise, and improve our autopilot settings.
1) Identity Change
We as humans feel our nature is fixed but it is not so. Nature is nothing but a universal set of habits. These habits formulate our identity.
If we think in terms to change our identity instead of fetching a certain result, we shall achieve our goal much easier than we realize.
Example: If the room is dirty with clothes all around and one fine day you feel motivated enough to clean it. You are killing the symptom, not the root cause of the problem.
Alternatively, if you tell yourself that you are a person who keeps the room tidy, you will always be conscious every time you feel like putting the clothes out of place, hence building a habit of cleaning everyday.
Many people begin the process of changing habits by focusing on what they want which leads to outcome-based-habits. The alternative is to build identity-based-habits.
Habit: Quit Smoking
Solution: Every time someone offers you a cigarette, tell them “I’m not a smoker” instead of “I’m trying to quit smoking”
Habit: Losing Weight
Solution: Next time you reach out for an extra cookie, ask yourself, “Would a healthy person eat an extra cookie?”
Habit: Chewing Fingernails
Solution: Get an expensive manicure and associate to an identity of someone who takes care of their nails
Studies have shown that when a person gets appreciated for a certain skill or appearance, they begin to take extra care and put extra effort into it..
2) Habit Scorecard
Make a list of all your habits from early morning to the end of the day.
Once you have your list ready. look at each habit and give “+” to a positive habit, “-” to a negative one, and “=” to a neutral habit.
When you are done, check how many positives and negatives you have which will make you realize if you are improving each day or deteriorating as a person.
After that, go through each habit and as yourself, does this behavior brings me closer to the identity I’m trying to build? Does this habit add to the type of person I wish to become?
By this, you will bring your subconscious behavior conscious and further begin to analyze which will help you break the habit quicker.
3) 4-Step Habit Pattern
4 Step habit pattern defines how a habit is built.
Cue: It triggers your brain and associates with a certain reward.
Example: A sight of a burger is associated with satisfying hunger
Craving: It generates the motivational force to satisfy a certain desire. It is different for different people
Example: A sight of a burger would make a foodie person want to eat a burger.
Response: It is the set of actions you perform to satisfy a certain craving.
Example: The foodie would now *Go to the restaurant *Order the burger
Reward: Is is the final step where you receive the reward.
Example: The Burger! Our brain is like a reward detector. It is going to register all the cues and steps performed in order to achieve the desired reward.
Hence, every cue and craving should be of the same frequency as that of the reward in order to turn it successfully into a habit.
To recapitulate, the cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and ultimately gets associated with a cue.
4) Habit Stacking
Habit stacking is a special form of implementation in which, rather than setting a goal, you pair it with your current habit.
Example: Meditation! – After I sit for work, I will meditate before opening my laptop. The key is to tie up your new “under construction” habit to something that you already do in your day to day life.
This will help embed certain actions easily into your subconscious mind. To make it even more effective, start adding time to your current statement of thought.
Example: When I sit for work, I will meditate for 15 min before I open my laptop. This gives your brain more information about a certain action and will eventually embed in your instincts.