We all have habits. Both good and bad. And, we all want to improve on the bad ones, don’t we?

Well, today. I’m going to be sharing with you a simple method of noticing your bad habits and then transforming them into successful ones.

Understanding the habit loop

The definition of a habit is:

“A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

But what makes a habit tick? If we want to make habits and change old ones, then we need to understand what keeps them beating.

There are three sections to a habit. Three areas that makeup what is called a ‘habit loop’. These sections are Cue, Routine and Reward.

Julio's habit loop

Example of a habit loop from the book ‘The power of habit’ by Charles Duhigg

A cue is something triggers the routine section of the habit loop. A cue could be something like seeing a packet of cigarettes, seeing chocolate or in a better case, getting home from work (I’ll explain in a bit).

But essentially, the cue is a trigger. The original stimulus that causes the following actions take place.

The cue is the building blocks of building a new habit, but it’s not what we change when we are trying to change an old habit. That’s the routine.

The routine is the part of the habit loop where the actions take place. It could be smoking the cigarette, eating the chocolate or going for a run. All the actions, no matter whether right or wrong are involved in the routine section of the habit loop. The routine is the section we will change when it comes to improving habits.

The reason why the routine is so powerful is that it links the cue to the reward. Without the routine, we would have a lot of urges and rewards and feelings but with nothing combining them.

The best part of the habit comes at the end. The reward comes in many different forms; it could be: the buzz from the nicotine in the cigarette or the serotonin released in the brain from eating chocolate or the endorphins released from going on a run.

No matter what the cue and the routine is. The bit that keeps the lope going round and us going back for more is the reward. After all, why would you keep doing something if you didn’t get anything out of it? If we got no reward, then we soon grow tired, get bored and move onto something else.

So, those are the three areas of a habit loop, and now we understand them, we can start to change our old bad routines and make good, successful ones from them.