Last week, I introduced you to the concept of keystone habits, which help you be the man you want to be.
On the other hand, you may have “bad” habits that are harmful – or even destructive – that derail your progress or sabotage your results.
They are like the opposite of keystone habits.
So how do you stop these “bad” habits from happening?
One key is understanding habit loops and how they work. Make your unconscious habits conscious.
Please answer the following 3 questions:
1. What are your “bad” habits that prevent you from achieving your goals?
- Late night snacking
- “Fly off the rails” with eating
- Binge drinking
- Watching Tik Tok, YouTube, or porn
- Lashing out at colleagues / family
2. What actions lead to these “bad” habits?
- Watching tv late at night
- Using your phone in bed
- Sitting on the couch after work
- Reading & responding to work emails at night
- Someone acting against your own code of conduct
3. What cue leads to the actions that lead to the “bad” habit?
- Seeing an image of food, which triggers a thought about processed snacks in your pantry
- Your wife / partner buying or eating processed foods
- Seeing or hearing your phone vibrate or ping from an email notification
- Seeing the image of an attractive women on a web ad or while scrolling on social media
- Seeing someone violate a rule that’s important to you
What we’ve done is unpack the habit loop, which is comprised of a (1) cue, (2) routine, and (3) reward. We worked backwards.
First, we identified the reward, or the “bad” habit, which gives you pleasure. Then, we identified the routine, or actions you take leading to that habit. Then, we identified the initial trigger, or cue that set the habit loop in motion.
If you master the habit loop, you can create or stop any habit.
A cue may be a sight, sound, feeling, taste, or smell, so any sensory perception that changes your focus.
Smelling cookies or ice cream, seeing a snack, hearing the word “brownie”, feeling stressed or tired, the taste of spicy food in your mouth can all be cues.
So the trick is to prevent the cue from happening so the habit loop never starts, or prevent the routine from happening so it never leads to the reward.
For example, stopping email notifications on your phone, keeping your phone out of your bedroom, or getting rid of the snacks in your pantry may prevent a harmful habit loop from forming.
Do you have any thoughts to share? Leave them below!
Replace a destructive, bad habit with an equally strong good habit.
Oh man, I was reading this post while eating a brownie, cued by the brownie display at the cafe I’m at!
Good to see you found the cue, Mitch! Learning about habit loops can shift perspective pretty quickly because it allows for more awareness of behavior, which are mostly on autopilot / unconscious.
Thank you! Couldn’t be more timely Marc. Last night I realized that I hadn’t turned off my phone and as I picked it up, I saw the date was April 3rd, the birthday of my recently deceased long distance relationship partner. Half an hour later I was in the kitchen preparing caramel corn. Yes I ate all of it.
We pick ourselves up.
We dust ourselves off.
We start all over again.
I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for you, Pam and I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Thanks for opening up and sharing your thoughts!