23 Jul 2021

The Power Of Habits

Have you ever driven to work and wondered how you got there? It’s a common thing for people to be in automatic habits and not even realize, which is why I do a lot of work with clients at the beginning to empower them to become self-aware first.

How long does it take for a new habit to form?

66 days is the average according to a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology. Realistically it could be anywhere from 18 to 254 days.

Duke University had carried out research which found that 40% of our actions each day are based on habit rather than conscious thought.

And taking it further, if 40% of your day is spent based on habits, you’d naturally start to wonder then whether your current habits are serving you, right?

Change your habits, change your results

Habits have 3 components which are: cue, routine, and rewards (Duhigg, 2016). Identifying what is causing the trigger/reward is useful to break the habit.

For sustained behaviour change, there are two recommended approaches. ‘The first is to turn a new behavior into a habit, that is, behaviour that is executed frequently and automatically.

Secondly, longer-term behaviour is more likely to be enhanced if a habit becomes part of an individual’s self-identity (e.g., Rothman et al., 2009; Walker et al., 2015; Gardner and Lally, 2018).

What I have found personally with clients is that reframing their mindset and working with them to create confidence, empowers them to feel that they can achieve it. This is important because to break away from one habit, it’s important that the underlying reason why they still complete the old habit is identified and reframed (e.g. what is the reward factor that they feel is benefitting them?)

Let’s say you wanted to increase your confidence so you could sell more, yet find that you keep putting off going live on social or posting content, then you’re in a habit. To break that cue you need to understand the reward, which could be escaping the fear of criticism. What meaning does this have for you and what do you associate with it?

Understanding our triggers

Here’s a pause for reflection, if most of your habits are unconscious have you taken any time to analyze your triggers, patterns, and their impacts?

In a study, Milne et al, (2002) found that when a planned intention to exercise was written down 91% of the participants followed through.

To create new habits a pattern interrupt is required. So if you are seeking to create new habits that will lead to increased sales and confidence, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Identify an unproductive habit that isn’t serving you. Think about why and what would you replace it with?
  2. Write down how you will change it and consider what will happen if you don’t.
  3. Rewire your mind by reflecting on the trigger points and what you’ll do if the trigger is activated
  4. Visualize how you’ll think, feel, act and behave in your mind picturing you having achieved this new result.

Sources:

  • Duhigg, Charles. (2016). The Power Of Habits. Random House. New York
  • Gollwitzer, Peter & Sheeran, Paschal. (2006). Implementation Intentions and Goal Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of Effects and Processes. First publ. in: Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 38 (2006), pp. 69-119. 38. 10.1016/S0065-2601(06)38002-1. 
  • Lally, Phillippa & Jaarsveld, Cornelia & Potts, Henry & Wardle, Jane. (2010). How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology. 40. 10.1002/ejsp.674. 
  • Milne, Sarah & Orbell, Sheina & Sheeran, Paschal. (2002). Combining motivational and volitional interventions to promote exercise participation: Protection motivation theory and implementation intentions. British journal of health psychology. 7. 163-84. 10.1348/135910702169420. 
  • Neal, David & Wood, Wendy & Quinn, Jeffrey. (2006). Habits—A Repeat Performance. Current Directions in Psychological Science – CURR DIRECTIONS PSYCHOL SCI. 15. 198-202. 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2006.00435.x. 
  • Rothman, A. J., Sheeran, P., and Wood, W. (2009). Reflective and automatic processes in the initiation and maintenance of dietary change. Ann. Behav. Med. 38(Suppl. 1), S4–S17. doi: 10.1007/s12160-009-9188-3
  • Walker, I., Thomas, G. O., and Verplanken, B. (2015). Old habits die hard: travel habit formation and decay during an office relocation. Environ. Behav. 47, 1089–1106. doi: 10.1177/0013916514549619

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