Redesign your Habit Loops

Mind

“You can either become a slave to the poor habits that hold you back in life or become a master of the habits that will produce the life you want for the next ten years. 

Either way, you will make this decision every day, and most people are too busy on autopilot to see their own self-destruction.”

It has been said that a habit can be created in twenty-one days. This simple statistic does not tell the entire story. Further research has been shown that depending on a person’s level of discipline, it may take anywhere from eighteen days to two hundred and eighty-four days to adopt a habit. Wrap that around your head for a moment, that is anywhere from three weeks to nine months. That is an extremely broad range to move the needle of your life and make long-lasting change. 

Other research shows the average time to create a habit is sixty-six days. 

Needless to say, these statistics validate that the timetable of changing a habit can depend on a number of factors. 

More importantly, it reaffirms the importance of self-discipline. And self-discipline is the gateway to building transformative habits. 

The mental skills of resisting temptation and creating healthy habits are essential to achieving success in life. 

Remember, habits are developed and stored in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain responsible for memory. In essence, a habit is a memorized behavior or automated response to help the brain rest. 

This brings me to my main point of the importance of creating healthy habits and developing the skill of self-discipline.

Everything starts with mental discipline. The core of this philosophy is simple, “Master the art of discipline, and you will master your life.”

In the next exercise, we are going to create or redesign your habit loops.

Habits are subconscious patterns of behaviors. They are neurological loops that influence progress towards your goals.

A habit can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Trigger/Cue
  2. Routine
  3. Reward

Simple right? Sadly, as simple as this breakdown appears, people are rarely conscious of the triggers or cues that ignite these routines and behaviors. With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look into each component of a habit loop.

  1. Triggers are the catalysts to your behaviors and routines. 

Here are some examples of triggers

  1. Routines are the obvious rituals or behaviors that you do as a result of the triggers.

Here are some examples of routines

  1. Rewards act as the positive reinforcement for the behavior. These rewards make it more likely to repeat that behavior in the future. These rewards can be tangible or intangible. Either way, you attach a certain amount of value or positive feeling to these rewards. 

Here are some examples of rewards

Here is a quick visual of a habit loop:

Now let’s look at a habit that is specific to health and wellness. 

  1. Trigger: Mental Fatigue from poor energy management throughout the workday.
  2. Routines: Excessive snacking after 2pm. I eat an extra 500-700 calories between 3-5pm.
  3. Reward: Taste and satisfaction from the snack.

As you can see, mental and emotional fatigue (energy level) is the trigger in this habit loop. We are human, which means energy is a finite source. We only have so much of it during our day. We must channel our energy wisely to prevent our mental energy from being depleted. 

"Mental and emotional fatigue makes cowards of us all.” This quote rings true in all of us. We avoid things when we are mentally and emotionally exhausted. This exhaustion breeds poor choices. Those poor choices will breed poor results, and that starts the vicious cycle of stagnancy. 

Lastly, let’s review the ultimate results of these habit loops due to lack of energy management.

What are the results and the big picture? 

  1. Result: 
    1. Unnecessary weight gain. Some people are so unaware of the results from their habits, they feel like they suddenly wake up and are 30 pounds heavier. The results from these poor rituals snuck up on them. 
  2. Big Picture: 
    1. Low confidence
    2. Low Vitality
    3. Poor choices 

Do you see the vicious cycle? Mental fatigue starts a snowball effect that becomes an avalanche of poor choices that can dramatically impact your future. Notice how everything connects and comes full circle. This validates the power of habit and mindfulness.

How can you redesign your habits?

Follow these steps to redesigning your habit loops in your journal or on a piece of paper.

  1. Write down the routine and how it impacts you in the grand scheme of things. This will minimize the power of this habit.

Routine

  1. Dissect the reward. Define the importance of the reward and if it holds any real value. Why is it important to you? This will help you understand if this habit is essential to you. 

Reward

  1. Identify the cue or trigger. Define the catalyst of this routine. What time is it? Where are you? How are you feeling? Who are you with? This will help put you in a position to win since you will know what to avoid at all costs. This method is like an insurance policy to help make the change in your routine easier.

Trigger

  1. Substitute the old routine with a new routine or set yourself up to avoid the trigger. Instead of being a slave to a bad habit that hinders your progress, you will focus on mastering a good habit that pushes you towards your desired goals.

What are the results and global impact of these subtle changes?  

Now let’s take a quick look at what the new habit loop looks like after making these simple changes.  

  1. The set up to prevent the trigger: 
    • Space your work sessions to prevent mental fatigue.
  2. The new routine: 
    • Drink two 16 oz. bottles of water between 2 pm - 4 pm when I feel the craving to snack. 
  3. The new reward: 
    • Increased hydration and focus 
  4. Result: 
    • More production throughout my day
    • Less calorie intake, more weight loss. 
  5. Big Picture
    • More vitality
    • More production
    • More confidence
    • Better choices

See the new cycle below:

Now that you know the process of redesigning your habits, try changing one or two habits that are barriers to achieving your goals in fitness, your career, finances, or executing passion projects.

Habit Change:

  1. Make a note in your journal or on a piece of paper.
  1. Make a note in your journal or on a piece of paper.

“You can either become a slave to the poor habits that hold you back in life or become a master of the habits that will produce the life you want for the next ten years. 

Either way, you will make this decision every day, and most people are too busy on autopilot to see their own self-destruction.”

It has been said that a habit can be created in twenty-one days. This simple statistic does not tell the entire story. Further research has been shown that depending on a person’s level of discipline, it may take anywhere from eighteen days to two hundred and eighty-four days to adopt a habit. Wrap that around your head for a moment, that is anywhere from three weeks to nine months. That is an extremely broad range to move the needle of your life and make long-lasting change. 

Other research shows the average time to create a habit is sixty-six days. 

Needless to say, these statistics validate that the timetable of changing a habit can depend on a number of factors. 

More importantly, it reaffirms the importance of self-discipline. And self-discipline is the gateway to building transformative habits. 

The mental skills of resisting temptation and creating healthy habits are essential to achieving success in life. 

Remember, habits are developed and stored in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain responsible for memory. In essence, a habit is a memorized behavior or automated response to help the brain rest. 

This brings me to my main point of the importance of creating healthy habits and developing the skill of self-discipline.

Everything starts with mental discipline. The core of this philosophy is simple, “Master the art of discipline, and you will master your life.”

In the next exercise, we are going to create or redesign your habit loops.

Habits are subconscious patterns of behaviors. They are neurological loops that influence progress towards your goals.

A habit can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Trigger/Cue
  2. Routine
  3. Reward

Simple right? Sadly, as simple as this breakdown appears, people are rarely conscious of the triggers or cues that ignite these routines and behaviors. With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look into each component of a habit loop.

  1. Triggers are the catalysts to your behaviors and routines. 

Here are some examples of triggers

  1. Routines are the obvious rituals or behaviors that you do as a result of the triggers.

Here are some examples of routines

  1. Rewards act as the positive reinforcement for the behavior. These rewards make it more likely to repeat that behavior in the future. These rewards can be tangible or intangible. Either way, you attach a certain amount of value or positive feeling to these rewards. 

Here are some examples of rewards

Here is a quick visual of a habit loop:

Now let’s look at a habit that is specific to health and wellness. 

  1. Trigger: Mental Fatigue from poor energy management throughout the workday.
  2. Routines: Excessive snacking after 2pm. I eat an extra 500-700 calories between 3-5pm.
  3. Reward: Taste and satisfaction from the snack.

As you can see, mental and emotional fatigue (energy level) is the trigger in this habit loop. We are human, which means energy is a finite source. We only have so much of it during our day. We must channel our energy wisely to prevent our mental energy from being depleted. 

"Mental and emotional fatigue makes cowards of us all.” This quote rings true in all of us. We avoid things when we are mentally and emotionally exhausted. This exhaustion breeds poor choices. Those poor choices will breed poor results, and that starts the vicious cycle of stagnancy. 

Lastly, let’s review the ultimate results of these habit loops due to lack of energy management.

What are the results and the big picture? 

  1. Result: 
    1. Unnecessary weight gain. Some people are so unaware of the results from their habits, they feel like they suddenly wake up and are 30 pounds heavier. The results from these poor rituals snuck up on them. 
  2. Big Picture: 
    1. Low confidence
    2. Low Vitality
    3. Poor choices 

Do you see the vicious cycle? Mental fatigue starts a snowball effect that becomes an avalanche of poor choices that can dramatically impact your future. Notice how everything connects and comes full circle. This validates the power of habit and mindfulness.

How can you redesign your habits?

Follow these steps to redesigning your habit loops in your journal or on a piece of paper.

  1. Write down the routine and how it impacts you in the grand scheme of things. This will minimize the power of this habit.

Routine

  1. Dissect the reward. Define the importance of the reward and if it holds any real value. Why is it important to you? This will help you understand if this habit is essential to you. 

Reward

  1. Identify the cue or trigger. Define the catalyst of this routine. What time is it? Where are you? How are you feeling? Who are you with? This will help put you in a position to win since you will know what to avoid at all costs. This method is like an insurance policy to help make the change in your routine easier.

Trigger

  1. Substitute the old routine with a new routine or set yourself up to avoid the trigger. Instead of being a slave to a bad habit that hinders your progress, you will focus on mastering a good habit that pushes you towards your desired goals.

What are the results and global impact of these subtle changes?  

Now let’s take a quick look at what the new habit loop looks like after making these simple changes.  

  1. The set up to prevent the trigger: 
    • Space your work sessions to prevent mental fatigue.
  2. The new routine: 
    • Drink two 16 oz. bottles of water between 2 pm - 4 pm when I feel the craving to snack. 
  3. The new reward: 
    • Increased hydration and focus 
  4. Result: 
    • More production throughout my day
    • Less calorie intake, more weight loss. 
  5. Big Picture
    • More vitality
    • More production
    • More confidence
    • Better choices

See the new cycle below:

Now that you know the process of redesigning your habits, try changing one or two habits that are barriers to achieving your goals in fitness, your career, finances, or executing passion projects.

Habit Change:

  1. Make a note in your journal or on a piece of paper.
  1. Make a note in your journal or on a piece of paper.