Like most people you have probably been experiencing many feelings of confusion, powerlessness, helplessness, and an overall anxiety about what is isolation has brought upon us and also the state of the world right now. Social distancing has changed the way we interact on daily basis in all aspects of lives but it also gives us a really unique opportunity to use the extra time to take more in depth look at our daily habits and improve them.

Whether it’s your goal to end a disruptive habit or create a new one, it can be tough to change your behaviour to make something that seems like chore become automatic. A 2009 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology suggests that it take about 66 days to create a new habit. But for a new habit to actually stick we need to look more closely at what goes into it, this is called The Habit Loop. Now I’m not saying this is the only way to change your behaviour & create new habits but it has proven to be one of the most simplest and effective ways.

Here is how each component of this four-step pattern applies to real-life examples.

Cue: This triggers your brain to initiate a behaviour. It is a bit of information that predicts a reward. We spend most of our time learning cues that predict secondary rewards like money and fame, power and status, praise and approval, love and friendship, or a sense of personal satisfaction.

Cravings: They are the motivational force behind every habit. Without some level of motivation or desire—without craving a change—we have no reason to act. What you crave is not the habit itself but the change in state it delivers. This differs from person to person.

Response: This is actually the habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. Whether a response occurs depends on how motivated you are and how much friction is associated with the behaviour. If a particular action requires more physical or mental effort than you are willing to expend, then you won’t do it.

Rewards: This is the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: (1) they satisfy us and (2) they teach us.

(Four Step Pattern referenced from Atomic Habits written by James Clear, 2018)

These four steps can then be grouped into two phases: the problem phase & the solution phase. The problem phase is the Cue and the Craving, it’s when you realise something has to give or change. The solution phase includes the Response and the Reward, this is when you act and achieve what your desire.

So how does this apply to everyday life? Firstly, you need to recognise what bad habits want to replace with new or improved ones. This will then allow you to do an assessment like the we have done in the below examples:

Problem Phase

Solution Phase

  1. Cue
  1. Craving
  1. Response
  1. Reward

You want a few glasses of wine after work while cooking dinner.

You want to feel relaxed, happy and wash away the days stress.

You pour a glass of wine and drink it

You satisfy your craving to feel relaxed & happy. Drinking wine becomes associated with how to finish the day & cook dinner.

You feel overwhelmed by a task at work

You feel stuck and anxious.

You take out your phone and scroll through social media to escape and procrastinate.

You satisfy your craving to not feel anxious. Checking social media becomes associated with feeling overwhelmed.

So how could you reverse the behaviour in these situations to create new habits?

Problem Phase

Solution Phase

  1. Cue
  1. Craving
  1. Response
  1. Reward

You want a few glasses of wine after work while cooking dinner.

You want to feel relaxed, happy and wash away the days stress.

You pour a glass of Tonic water and add some semi-oven fried orange peels & take out some time (10-15 minutes) for yourself & do some journaling/writing down your thoughts of the day.

You satisfy your craving to feel relaxed & happy without having drunk alcohol. You have made some time for self-care activities.

You feel overwhelmed by a task at work

You feel stuck and anxious.

You take out 5-10 minutes to go for a walk outside or meditate.  You then revisit what are wanting to achieve by completing task. Set a Pomodoro where you work 25 minutes on/5 minutes off

You satisfy your craving to not feel anxious. You now have the tools to stop yourself from procrastinating.

In summary, whenever you want to change the behaviour of a habit, you can simply ask yourself:

  1. How can I make it obvious?
  2. How can I make it attractive?
  3. How can I make it easy?
  4. How can I make it satisfying?

Recently, I recognised that there were a few areas in my day to day life that I could make some changes these included incorporating more sunlight exposure (15-20 min per day), daily gratitude and reducing the amount time of spend on devices at night time. Although these might sound like only small changes to many, I have noticed a big difference in my overall mental state since making these changes. As for our Online Program members, I have also been strongly advising them to utilise our accountability software we recently implemented, Wodify Rise, which has daily tasks such as nutrition logging, completing daily gratitude, increasing incidental activity. The reward system within the app gives you a set number of points per task and depending on how well it was completed, creating that sense of achievement.

Rather than seeing this period of life as something negative, turn it into a positive as there really no better time to implement and practice new and better ways of doing things. Things that we took for granted before that might have been the basis of bad habits might be broken. Can we replace them with good habits that we can continue in a post-isolation world? The positive impact it would have on not only ourselves, but the people around us, could be huge.

Take care & stay safe!

Ashley Carucci
Head Coach & Director

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