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“All of our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.”

                   -William James

What is a Habit?

Habits are often referenced today as the secret to success with promises as unrealistic as “if only you implement these 5 habits you will become a millionaire by next week”. The truth is, habits are more than simply a means to success. Habits have made up your entire life. Whether you realize it or not you have hundreds, even thousands of habits that you perform on a regular basis. 

For example, when you go to the movie theater I bet you have a general area you like to sit in. If you’re paranoid of teenagers throwing popcorn at your head, probably towards the back. If you prefer to get the best viewing experience like me, most likely somewhere in the middle section. And unless you enjoy neck cramps, never the front row. 

Habits such as these are formed through our experiences and determine how we view reality and interact with the world. Most of us have several habits surrounding these three necessities of life:

  • Sleeping: Everyone is doing it nowadays
  • Eating: 3 times a day, minimum
  • Drinking: Water is necessary for life (and pancakes)
I would bet that you have a favored side of the bed to sleep on, maybe even a specific position that you prefer. When you gather with friends or family to share a meal you might say a prayer before diving into the mashed potatoes. And you certainly have your “go to beverage” when you spend a night at your favorite restaurant.
 
My point in giving you these illustrations is to help you realize what you already know to be true, habits make up your whole life.
 
For better or worse the outcome of your life will be determined by the summation of your habits. 

Definition of a Habit

Now that we have a relative concept of what a habit is, let’s get the technical definition: 

  hab·it:    

                (hăb′ĭt) 

“an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.”

In other words, a habit is the way in which our brain automates behaviors. Our brain does this to save energy for other more important tasks that will be demanded of it throughout the day. Just think about all the complex operations and functions our brain orchestrates on a daily basis. From complex physical movements to deep creative thinking, the brain is responsible for so many functions and tasks that we complete every day. 

Imagine then how difficult it would be if every time you went to tie your shoes you had to relearn the process. Criss-cross, bunny loops and jumping through all the holes, the wasted energy and time would be ridiculous! Thankfully our brains were designed to create and recall these processes through habit formation. 

You may now be wondering how this process works. The process the brain goes through is actually pretty simple, at least at the conceptual level.

How Habits Are Formed

In order to explain how habits are formed, I must first introduce you to the habit loop:

THE HABIT LOOP

Regardless of the habit you have formed in the past or would like to form in the future this is the 3 step process your brain has gone through or will go through to create it. 

The process begins with a trigger.

I. Trigger– This is the initial cue telling your brain that it is time to perform a certain function. 

The next part of the habit loop is the routine:

II. Routine– After your brain has received the signal to begin performing a specific action it is now time to enact the routine. 

The final step is the reward:

III. Reward– After you perform a certain routine you will receive a reward and this is what drives the habit loop. 

We have all developed cravings for certain rewards which flow from the triggers and routines we have allowed into our lives. 

A real life example could look like this: 

Sleep habit

The Roadmap to Change Any Habit in 66 Days

If you would like to learn more about habits and how they can transform your life I have created a free guide for you.

It is called The Roadmap to Change any Habit in 66 Days. 

Simply enter your email address below and I will send it directly to your inbox!

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When starting anything new there are numerous hurdles to overcome. Because of this I want to help you find practical ways to implement good habits into your lifestyle in the easiest way. This is why I created the Daily Lifestyle H.A.B.I.T.S. Podcast.

If you have yet to take this step I want to encourage you to click one of the links below and subscribe to get the latest free content!

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