Habits Win Over Motivation
Here is the second part to the Motivation or Habit blog from earlier in the week. Now we have our motivation? How can we turn this into a habit and ultimately a long-term change?
Studies show that about 40 percent of people’s daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations. Habits emerge through associative learning, such as educational programs and weight-loss programs that are all geared toward improving your day-to-day habits. But, are they really effective? They may seem successful at increasing motivation and desire. You will almost always feel like you can change and that you want to change, but when you finish the program do you just return back to normal? The programmes give you knowledge and goal-setting strategies, but these programs may only address what you feel on a conscious level and not about breaking the habits. I feel what they teach you is hard to sustain, as it is like when you go away on holiday you behave differently, but when the holiday is over you just return to normal.
What you truly need is not just motivation but new lasting habits.
Habit formation is the process by which new behaviours become automatic. If you instinctively reach for a cigarette the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a habit. By the same token, if you feel inclined to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets as soon as you get home, you’ve acquired a habit. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form, but forming lasting habits is the key to success. That’s because the behavioural patterns we repeat most often, are literally etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it’s possible to form and maintain new habits
Think about something that took you a really long time to learn, like learning to drive. At first, it is super complicated and difficult to do without having to devote a lot of mental energy to it. But, after you continue to learn it starts becoming easier, then you pass your test becoming a regular driver. As you continue driving, it starts to feel more natural. If you become a confident driver, you may have experienced this, driving along a familiar route, you may have found that you have lost most of the journey and can’t fully remember it. This is because it’s become a true formed habit, which is now automated. Don’t panic we all drive on auto pilot at times, if something is out of the ordinary we soon return back to where we are. This is because if it doesn’t follow the normal routine and we haven’t automated it, our conscious mind takes over again.
Every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop,” which is a three-part process. First, there’s a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behaviour unfold. Then there’s the routine, which is the behaviour itself, the third step, is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps it remember the “habit loop” in the future
Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviours to a part of the brain which also plays a key role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called, but as soon as a behaviour becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts. The brain can almost completely shut down. … And this is a real advantage, because it means you have all of this mental activity you can devote to something else. Which with a bad habit it can be an issue.
Keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the first sign of madness
So, stop doing things in the same order or change the route to home so you can get to the gym without running out of motivation. It will help new patterns form and with the rewards in place, all your old cues and rewards aren’t there anymore. So, you have this ability to form a new pattern and to be able to carry it over into a long-term life change. Studies have shown it can take anywhere from 15 days to 254 days to truly form a new habit. There’s no easy formula for how long it takes, but it’s easier to maintain the behaviour if it’s repeated in a similar pattern.
Remember the key points, mix things up and doing things differently makes it harder to automate an existing bad habit. Get your mind set focused on success, set achievable goals which are perfect for you and not what you think you should do. Make your new goals and habits fun and rewarding, and set a regular pattern to help them imbed into an automatic response. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the power of belief and more about how your mind works on an unconscious level.
Thanks for dropping by, Sara x