“Habit is a cable, we weave a thread of it each day, and it becomes so strong that we cannot break it” Napoleon Hill
We throw the word habit around without understanding what a habit really is. The average person just goes through life and think habits are just formed out of thin air which they have no control over. So, what is a habit? Technically, it can be defined as the situation where you make a deliberate decision at some point to do something and then stop thinking about your choice as you continue to follow the same routine over and over. With habits, what you do becomes automatic rather than requiring you to decide what to do each time. It has been estimated that more than 40 percent of the actions you perform every day are the result of your habits rather than deliberate decisions you’re making. With that in mind, it makes sense to get to understand how habits form and work.
Habits can be changed if you understand how they work. At the core of every habit you have lies a reasonably simple neurological loop.
If you want to change and reshape your habits for the better:
- Identify the routines you currently follow and figure out how you can change your routines so you swap vices for virtues.
- Experiment with different rewards until you can isolate what you’re actually craving when you do something habitually. If you can figure out what you’re genuinely craving, then you understand how to make a desired behavior automatic.
- Isolate the cue that triggers your habit what is it that signals it’s time to do something. There are in practice only five types of cues: location, time, your emotional states, other people or an immediately preceding action. Figure out what sparks your habit to occur.
- Then develop a new plan for what you’ll do differently the next time that cue arises. When you get right down to basics, habits are formulas your brain automatically follows: When you see a CUE, you do a ROUTINE in order to get the REWARD. To change your habit, keep the cue and the reward the same and insert a new routine.
Don’t sell the clean teeth, sell the tingling feeling
Consumers need some type of signal that a product is working. We can make toothpaste taste like anything-blueberries, green tea – and as long as it has a cool tingle, people feel like their mouth is clean. The tingling doesn’t make the toothpaste any better. It just convinces people it’s doing the job.
– Tracey Sinclair, brand manager, Oral-B and crest