Hopefully you read part 1 of my ‘Rewire you Habits’ post where I talked about some really useful ways of decoding these automated behaviours. Some key takeaways were:
- Habits are formed from the unconscious mind and therefore you should emotionally detach yourself from the bad ones.
Why get upset at yourself if you find it extremely difficult to resist continually checking your email?
- A habit is made up a cue, craving, routine and reward. Understanding this structure and breaking down our bad habits accordingly, gives us power over them.
When you start seeing you behaviour through this framework, you’ll notice how habits can very easily be changed.
- Belief is required for long lasting change.
Think about this one. What’s the point doing exercise everyday if you don’t have a belief that it will make you healthier or slimmer?
- Developing a single habit can lead to great change.
This one is harder to see. But you might have come across people who have taken one habit like running, and they change other aspects of their life. They might become more confident and outgoing, or they end up having new relationships.
What I didn’t talk about last time was the topic of pre-commitment. Doing this links in nicely with the basic structure of a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward. We’ve all actually created a pre-commitment at some point in our life. We might be really motivated to make sure something happens, like we have a job interview the next day and we can’t miss it, so we set an extra alarm, we have the suit ready to go, and we have the exact directions printed out. The same thing applies with making a pre-commitment. If we’re motivated to make sure we get up early to go to the gym, we’ll have our gym clothes ready, the alarm is set and we’ll go to bed a little bit earlier than usual.
We can use this concept of a pre-commitment to create new habits or to override old ones. For example, if we want to create a new habit of drinking less soft-drink, there’s a few pre-commitments that can be tried. The simple option is throwing out the soft drink or replacing it with a flavoured water. If that’s not possible, some people will carry a bottle of water around.
To go a level deeper, you could analyse when you have a craving for a soft-drink and attempt to short circuit it. For example, you might find you get that soft-drink craving in the afternoon because you’re tired and you need a energy boost. You can create a pre-commitment by going for a walk just before the usual afternoon slow down.
Pre-commitments are a powerful way to rewire an old habit or create a new one. Depending on your situation, it might require some creative thinking but if you try different things, you’re bound to crack the habit code.
Try it and let me know how it can help you.
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