• Alex Vikner

Your Habits Shape Your Life

Habits are the small decisions and actions taken every day. Your life today is the sum of your habits. They define whether you are in shape or out of shape, successful or unsuccessful etc. We become what we repeatedly do. Hence, when you learn to transform your habits, you can transform your life.


Habit Formation

Habits emerge without our consent because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. They form within our brain in a 3-step loop:

  1. A cue tells your brain to go into automatic mode.

  2. A routine is performed (physical, mental or emotional).

  3. A reward which helps your brain decide if the loop is worth remembering.

Cravings drive habits and are what makes them so powerful. Often, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist.


How to Change Habits

Any change can occur within the right framework. To create a new habit, put together a loop (cue, routine, reward) and cultivate a craving that drives it. However, you can’t simply eliminate a bad habit, you can only change it by using the same cue and reward, but modifying the routine.


The Secret Ingredient

Belief. It's what keeps you from relapsing. Everyone relapses to old habits in times of stress but the key to to not ditching your new habits completely is the belief that you can stick to them.


Habit Contagion

Keystone habits refer to the key habits in your life that are contagious in the sense of having wide-reaching effects. Just changing these few key habits can lead to a larger lifestyle overhaul.


This happens because small wins are a steady application of a small advantage. Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favors another small win. Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.


Willpower

Our willpower gets exhausted throughout the day which is why we tend to give in to bad cravings at dinner. Just like our muscles, willpower needs to be gradually trained to get stronger.


Habits in Organizations

Organizational habits evolve from the collective habits of employees. Like individuals, companies are made up of habits that are necessary for work to get done.


Good leaders embrace crises as moments for change. Crises are the perfect time to reevaluate organizational habits because people are most open to change. A good leader uses the crises to catalyze important institutional changes.


Remember

Because habits emerge within the brain, often unconsciously, we tend to feel like we're unable to control them. However, by being aware of them and applying the right framework, we can cultivate our own habits and take charge of our own life.

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©2020 Alex Vikner