Habits are hardcore. They are the opposite of chaos. They patrol our world with aggressive predictability.
Like an exhausted foreign legion, our brains are constantly sweeping our lives for new behaviours to recruit into a habit.
Our minds crave the calmness that the autopilot that a pattern promises.
Therefore it is WAY more easy to start a new habit by discharging an exhausted, irrelevant or downright naughty old habit.
A great trick to start - and most crucially retain - new habits is to crowbar a new activity from an old trigger to kick out a bad behaviour pattern.
So think: next time you flip on that kettle on or slide into some comfy clothes then maybe those three minutes whilst the water boils could be spent engaged in an activity that can enrich your life, or grow into a bigger deal.
Read on for Trigg’s 5 step guide to sleekly folding a new habit into your busy existence.
1. Identify the bad habits you want to swap with good ones
This is the easy bit. We all know the quirks of our life that hold us back. It's obvious when we dance with the badness. That little, meek voice in the back of our minds tries to cry foul, just before justification steam rolls it into a plateau of acceptability.
So what entrenched behaviour can you identify that you don't like? Could you swap watching Netflix with a more significant action that relates to you and your life?
2. Figure out the trigger of the bad habit
What event provokes the old routine? This is the harder part to figure out as it may be unconscious. Unfair and whimsical demands from your boss may prompt drinking alcohol via frustration and anger. Drinking booze may spark smoking. Then a grating, lethargic commute home may elicit the gorging on crap telly.
You can see how these are global behaviour patterns are a cliche for a reason.
Whether you’re aware of this or not, the science is overwhelming: every habit is launched by a trigger. This is why habits work so well; a carefully evolved system clicks into action every time, regardless of your so-called “higher thoughts” that suggest a different activity.
The chances are that every day when you get home from work you have cast iron habits waiting for you. For example, the flipping on of the kettle or the sliding into your comfy house pants mentioned earlier.
These actions then launch behaviour such as snacking, switching on the TV, phoning someone or checking social media.
Here lies the open goal for habit change. If you can swap the switching on of that TV with 15 mins of exercise or the start of a new project or hobby - then within just two or three days you’ll see that activity GLUE itself into your routine.
After a week of substituting actions then look back. You’ll be able to witness how replacing 15 grams of fat with 15 minutes of exercise may just have a fighting chance of survival as a principle. And the impact on your life will seem profound.
You may even be amazed at the transformation in that tiny little patch of time. Remarkable things may grow in that modest space until you need to open up even more areas of your life to keep watering that passion.
3. Keep an maternal eye on the friends of your trigger
What company do your triggers keep? For example if a certain person in your life has an incredible knack of always persuading you to get drunk or sack off work to go and play darts then that friend needs to be seen as a rival trigger. Beware of threats to your fragile new habit until it's fully fledged.
Clench. Murmur. Maybe even steady yourself like an old person who got up too quickly. Getting new habits to stick is tough for a few days. But once they’ve taken root you’ll reap the benefits without noticing. It really is a case of allowing the autopilot to take over so you can focus on the next element of your life that needs a little love.
5. Create accountability.
Strike a bet. Make a pledge. Quietly bite off more than you can chew. We are all monsters of pride. So harness the power of being goaded by friends or colleagues to become the fuel for your smug little secret fire.
Even better, try adopting a new habit in sync with a good friend, family member or work colleague who you see a lot of. Growing in tandem is considerably easier than solo activities as the fear for capitulating, failing to turn up or letting the side down once again revives the pride.