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Why Habits Matter, Part 1

Updated: Jul 8, 2021




A Duke University study showed that 45% of our behaviors are actions we repeat every day, in the same location and in the same manner. Our brains seek to minimize effort and this automatic brain behavior is referred to as Chunking. Chunking aids in creating a new habit pattern in the cells of our brain so that we no longer think about the activity, like brushing our teeth; we just do it. It takes 30 days to create a habit, and 90 days for the habit to become habitual. Think about the drive from your home to the office. How often do you arrive at the office and not remember making all of those left and right-hand turns? For most of us, we get in the car, we put it on auto-pilot, and 20-minutes later we are sitting at our desk.


Every action in life is due to one of two reasons: to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, and the strongest motivator is to avoid pain. One way to break a bad habit is to visualize the pain or hurt our habit will cause us or those we care about. Avoid trigger points; these can be people, places, or events that we associate with a particular habit.


Find ways to reward yourself for working on a bad habit. Do not wait until you get rid of the bad habit completely to reward yourself. Set a timeline or benchmark for good behavior. Example: If I avoid drinking alcohol for a week, at the end of the week I reward myself with lunch at my favorite taco stand. If I avoid alcohol for 30 days, I treat myself to a nice dinner out. If we string enough of these small victories together, we will eventually break the bad habit.


In the book “Why Habits Matter” by K. Connors, the author writes: “Early wins are very important, because they boost your self-confidence. Early wins motivate you and show you that it can be done. Early wins push you to go forward and achieve more. Early wins help you go from search to execution mode. Early wins help you to overcome fatigue before achieving your final goal.”


Next week we will talk about the 12 things highly successful do on a habitual basis.

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