Your alarm goes off and you hit snooze. You turn on your computer and check Facebook. Your phone pings and you instantly check it. You get bored and go pilfer through the pantry for a snack. 40% of what we do is out of habit, and if we can control our habits, we can improve any aspect of our lives.
New Habit Each Week
Changing a habit can not be done in a week. It usually takes about 30 days to lock-in a habit, but that time will vary depending on how big of a change you’re making. The reason then that I try something new every week is twofold:
- Only being able to change one thing every month wouldn’t be particularly interesting to me, or anyone else. There are a lot of things I want to try and only trying 12 things a year would be frustrating to say the least.
- It’s not as if you wake up on the 30th day and BOOM have the habit down, I see it more like this:
That peak is, in my experience, usually in the first week. Once you get past that it’s much smoother sailing (although not yet habitual) and your willpower is freed up to start on something new.
Method for Changing a Habit
In my experience, and based on the work of Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit, there are three main parts of a habit:
- The Cue, or what initiates the habit
- The Routine; the action that you likely think of as “the habit”
- The Reward; the reason why the habit continues; what you get out of it.
Working in parallel with those three parts of the habit, there are three things you need to target in order to change a habit:
- The Setup, or how you can create a new cue/understand an existing one
- The Routine; what it is you want to do habitually
- The Reinforcement; how you’re going to keep yourself doing it until it’s natural for you
All of the habits that I target will involve these frameworks in some way, as they’re the best way to think of any habit and come up with ways to change it.