Habit Decoded

This post is a part of 2-Part Post on Habits and what I learned about them in the month of January 2014 – The Month of Habits.

In the previous post, I explained what I discovered to be the biggest myths about Habits. Today, lets understand what habits are. Lets jump in and decode habit right away. Shall we?

A habit simply put is:

  1. a desired response (which will later become reaction)
  2. to an itch

Sometimes simple things are kinda intimidating aren’t they? Let’s dig in a little bit.

A Response is creating a new set of actions by removing or replacing the usual actions – reactions

A response could be not eating that extra brownie or doing 20 push-ups. The thing about response is it needs something to hold on to for support before it becomes a part of your subconscious system. Just like how we learnt to walk.

And An Itch is what that gives the hold.

An itch can be an already formed habit, a place or time or something that you can have as a reference.

Example – doing push-ups (response) immediately after getting up (itch)

It’s like itch and response have been bitten by a Cupid. They are inseparable until the magic wears off.

But to sustain the magic is not difficult if you:

a) Pay attention to the itch: Sub conscious is quick! First few days you need to make a conscious effort on responding to the trigger but before you know it, it becomes an itch – you can feel the itch at that particular place or time or just after a habit you had fixed to prelude/succeed the new one. Sometimes you will follow the new habit some times you don’t – but the itch will be there for a long time.(for me lasted for 15 days after first three days of conscious trigger)

On the side note: That’s why I call it an itch and not a trigger or cue as used in NLP or power of habits. Though I borrowed ideas from them.

b)Have just one itch: (otherwise the brain gets confused ) It’s important esp during the beginning stages .Another reason is that the references might conflict with each other. Moreover having more than one itch provides a lot of room for failure we don’t want that do we? I mean would you bet on hitting the target at the center for 3 times continuously in the very first attempt? No, right?

So basically, if you have done both you can master any habit in less than 7 days.(I am just putting out a number based on my experience it could be even less than that.)

But, a human is to err. It’s important to know that we err. That way we do not get trapped in failures.

I am going to reserve the discussion on habit formation for the next post.

The platform is all yours now :), have you discovered something about habit or share a similar view, do share it! 

Bonus: If you would like to test your subconscious, before you sleep make a conviction to get up at a particular time. Trust the system, don’t switch on the alarm. You will wake up during that time (give or take a 5-10 mins). But, you have to pick yourself out of bed though ;).


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