Changing a Habit is Easier Than You Think


My husband, Brooks, eats a lot of tortilla chips. In turn, I pretend like I don’t eat a lot of chips, but the truth is that I go behind him and clean up the crumbs. He doesn’t like the chips that aren’t full-sized. I don’t get it because they are even better for munching and let’s face it, I’m not eating chips because I’m hungry, I’m eating them because I’m bored and munchy.

Out of respect, I wait for quite a while as I eyeball the mostly empty bags of chip crumbs in our pantry. Once I’m positive that Brooks has abandoned the perfectly mouth-sized treasure of salty crunchiness I sneak in, somewhat like you would imagine an Animal Planet documentary, to secure my treasure. The challenge with this wait-and-watch game is that I end up with stale chips.

No one wants stale chips. And no one wants to end up with stale routines and habits in life. 

Habits drive everything we do, from success to failure. I’m guessing that at one point or another you have tried to add, change, or remove a habit. Wake up earlier in the morning or go to bed earlier in the evening. Eat more vegetables or eat less sugar. Increase your professional networking or focus more on the big picture rather than the million tasks that pop up each week.

Habits have three core components according to the book I’m currently obsessed with. I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg a while ago and for whatever reason didn’t pay a lot of attention. I probably didn’t even finish it. Then several friends starting reading it and posting about it this year, so I picked it back up. Soooooo good!

Duhigg shares that the three components of a habit are the cue, the routine, and the reward. For the most part, the cue and reward won’t change, but you CAN change the routine, thus altering the habit. It took me a while to process through this concept and figure out how it was applicable in my life. Once the lightbulb went off, I felt like I had found the holy grail of life change.

It’s basic, but lets go back to me and my obsession with chips. I’ll take you through the process.

Cue: Mid-afternoon boredom. The caffeine is waning and I’m tired of staring at my computer screen. I need a reason for a break.

Routine: Eat something crunchy and salty. Often this gives me a reason to step out of the office and walk to the grocery store.

Reward: I got fresh air, I probably had a conversation with someone, I got the physical stimulation of eating something, and I gave my brain a break from the computer screen(which we all should do more often throughout the day).

Here’s the issue for me with this cycle of habit. I don’t need the extra calories. More importantly than that, they aren’t quality calories and I work really hard to choose nutrients that my body actually needs and won’t jack up inflammation like low-quality oils and non-organic grains. Often I end up with a stomach ache. 

Based on what I learned in The Power of Habit and what I know to be true from my own life, I really can’t fight the cue, which is going to amp up into a craving the harder I fight it. Left unchecked I may end up eating something worse or binging on a larger amount. The reward my mind and body is seeking also won’t change. That leaves the middle. 

A new routine is easy to choose. I bring carrots to work. I might pack some popcorn from home. Or better yet, I take a walk, drink a ton of water, chat with some coworkers, and find satisfaction in a different way. The importance of beginning to change a habit is to become aware of the cue, do something to address that trigger, then allow the reward to still happen, which is most likely mental, emotional, or physical.

You may have bad habits at work which are preventing you from focusing on your priorities or making progress toward your goals. Do you procrastinate? Are you working on all the things except what will actually get you ahead? Or do you never take a break and allow yourself space to recover from the constant drain?

Health is high on my list of factors for overall success and it’s an area many women struggle to balance. Learning how habits work and what you can do to change them will put you in the best position to feel good, have the strength and stamina for what life throws at you, and the confidence in yourself to tackle big dreams. Health is foundational. If you aren’t feeling your best there is no way those around you are going to receive your best, no matter how well you fake it.

This is a microscopic peek at habits, the routines that build them, and how you can set the tone for your future. (Cheesy alert) You can do anything you want to. I firmly believe that. Get your habits straightened out and you will have mastered a huge chunk of getting to the place you envision

I’m still going to sneak around and clean up the chip crumbs, but it’s going to be on my terms and I’m replacing the bad habits in my life with new ones now that I can focus on the routine.

Have I sparked your interest? You have got to check out this book and a few other resources I have used in my life.  

I LOVE helping people set goals, refine the process, and celebrate along the way. Contact me HERE if you would like a partner to cheer you on!


Resources:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Atomic Habits by James Clear

High Performance by Brendon Burchard

clearly: tuning in, tuning out & maximizing productivity