The Anatomy of a Habit

Hi, it’s Sharon Lipinski, the Habit SuperHero
and welcome to this week’s Habit Huddle where I share a quick tip, insight, or strategy
you can use to master your habits, because the only thing that’s standing between you
and the life you want are the good habits you wish you had and the bad habits you wish
you didn’t. This week, we’re talking about the anatomy
of a habit… When people think about a habit, they tend
to only think about the action itself. We’re aware that we check our text messages. We’re aware that we drink coffee every morning. But there are 2 other parts of the habit that
are equally important. Let’s look at those… The first part of your habit is the trigger. So if habits are something that happens unconsciously,
if you’re not thinking, if you’re not deciding to do it, then the question is… how do you
know that it’s time to do it? That’s a great question, and the answer is
that you’ve been triggered. Something in your environment has let you
know that it’s time to engage in this particular behavior. The easiest place to see this is in your morning. Your alarm clock is a trigger that says it’s
time to do something. What is that something for you? Do you make a habit of getting right out of
bed in the morning or do you make a habit of pressing the snooze alarm? And when you do get out of bed what do you
do next? I go brush my teeth. What do you do? And what do you do after that? and after that? Your whole morning is a series of habits each
one triggering the next. You’re not thinking about it, you’re not deciding. And that’s the power of triggers, it presses
play on your neural wiring. And then your habit ends with a reward. You get something out of doing your habits. You get some kind of benefit. It might be a physical benefit like a rush
of caffeine. Or it could be a mental benefit like a sense
of completion. Or it could be a social benefit like feeling
more connected to your friends. Something is going on in your body, your mind,
or your heart and very likely it’s causing your brain to release endorphins or dopamine
into your bloodstream, and that’s the real reward. That feels great. Here are some examples. The trigger for your text messages is the
sound your phone makes and the reward is finding out what somebody just wanted to tell you. The trigger for your morning cup of coffee
could be walking into the kitchen and the reward is that rush of caffeine. The trigger for putting on your seat belt
is sitting in the front seat of the car and the reward is to stop that incessant beeping
sound. The trigger for biting your fingernails could
just be the simple act of moving your hand near your face and the reward might be relief
from anxiety. Every person, every habit has their own unique
anatomy. The takeway… When it comes to a habit, something has told
you to act in a certain way in order to get a particular benefit. Use can use this structure to your benefit. If you’re going to create new habits, intentionally
choose your triggers and rewards. And if you want to break a bad habit, don’t
start with the action. Start with understanding the triggers and
what you’re getting out of it. Then you’re going to have options for disrupting
that, whether that getting rid of your triggers or replacing the action with something that’s
better for you. Thanks for joining me for this week’s Habit
Huddle. If you enjoyed the episode click subscribe
for more bite size tips on mastering your habits. And if you have comments, questions, leave
them below the video, and I might just answer them in a future episode.