Changing Habits

Changing Habits

We have routines. See if any of these are familiar.

Every morning when I wake up , I shuffle out into the kitchen, pick up the dog bowls, fill them with food and change their water.

Every morning I drive by the donut shop on my way to work and I stop and get a medium coffee with cream and a donut to eat on the way to work.

When I drive home at night, I rarely remember the drive. I have driven the same route for years.

Every night when I come home, I hang up my jacket and walk into the kitchen. I open the refrigerator and stand in front of it, taking inventory. I make a sandwich (or something else that is quick) and turn on the television.

All of these activities that we do routinely without thinking are habit chunks. Think about your day. How many chunks of your routine are so practiced that they are habits?

Wendy Wood and David Neal, of Duke University, authored a paper entitled “ A New Look At Habits and the Habit Goal Interface“. One aspect of their solution to habit change was the regulation of habit cues. Much of our day is choreographed with routine and in that environment, we are exposed to the same habit cues, every day. It is easy to see then how our brains can function on autopilot for many of the habitual actions we perform each day.

Changing our habit cues can be as simple as changing the route we drive to work each day. If we are cued by the donut shop sign and automatically pull in for a coffee and a donut, change your route, bring an apple with you, listen to a different radio station. Stick with your new route for a week and see what happens. You may form a new habit.

Take a minute and write down the habits chunks in your day. What are the cues? How can you change them? Start small and remember…Kidogo!


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