Charles Duhigg, author of a new book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, details how we can break a bad habit. The first step, Duhigg says, is to pay attention, study the habit, and break it down into its three basic parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward. As you’ll see in the video below, the trick to breaking a bad habit is to keep the cue and reward, but change the routine:
The second step, Duhigg says, is to believe change is possible. And for some people, that belief only comes about as part of a group. From his book, Duhigg writes:
The evidence is clear: If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group. Belief is essential, and it grows out of a communal experience, even if that community is only as large as two people.
It’s a two step process. But other than finding a group who are giving up the same bad habit together, what are some other things you can do? Try Twitter or Facebook. Drew Magary used the hashtag #twitterpublichumiliationdiet when he was trying to lose weight. It kept him accountable for his choices.
So say you want to increase your word count, but every time you sit down to write, you end up goofing around on the internet. Well, study your cue, routine, and reward. Then try to find a new routine that doesn’t involve you not writing. Then, you could join a writers’ group or just post your daily word count online. The important thing is to let people know what you are doing, so they will yell at you if they don’t see your tweet or Facebook post.
Oh, and if you want to learn more about Duhigg, go to this page on brainpickings.org.