3 loops = new habit “done” 3 times.
Ive talked about the addition of daily practices.
Love them. Still doing them.
My days are better framed and I’m slowly becoming who I want to be in my second life.
Even with this restructuring, however, there existed a (rather large) habit which wasn’t serving me.
A phrase I habitually used which, even when I uttered it, I knew only made me feel worse.
When I confided this to a super-smart friend she informed me I had a habit loop I needed to break.
since she knew I’d procrastinate reading, she explained to me the major points of Charles Duhigg’s: The Power of Habit.
Duhigg suggests our habits take the form of cue (trigger from environment telling brain to act) routine (action/habit) and reward (what we “get” from the habit).
This made sense, but didn’t quite feel entirely applicable to the thought-habit I wanted to break.
So I tweaked his approach and made it work for me.
Habit: I have the bad-for-ME habit of saying the phrase I’m tired.
I want to stop as it’s neither true (I don’t mean sleepy.) nor is it working for me.
Habit is triggered when I feel unheard and saying it serves to help me feel momentarily seen or acknowledged.
Reward? None. I assumed my habit would be easy to shed as I received no reward (translation: still no one listened).
I was wrong. I tried to break my habit. I tried to shift my mindset. It didn’t work.
I needed more than Duhugg.
I needed a visual reminder.
To succeed I needed to create a trigger which reminded me of how long Ive maintained my new habit.
Something tangible in the same way I used rubber-bands when I was trying remind myself to drink more water.
Duhigg’s phrasing, however, sparked this too literal woman to recall her love of creating construction paper loops with the Child for Sukkot.
I’d identified a reward for my thought-habit.
The visual-reward of seeing my loop numbers grow!
And I started. I added a loop at the end of each day I maintained my new habit.
Encountering this visual trigger nudged me toward the mindset I desired no matter how I felt when I climbed out of bed in the morning.
These tangible loops work for me.
While I didn’t literally break my chain if I backslid (no loop-removal for undesired behaviors) the pride I felt at seeing how consistent I’d been with my new habit made me highly motivated to not want to even metaphorically break the chain.
- I know mastery follows consistency.
- I know behaving the way I desire begets more good behavior.
- I neither thought I needed a reward for habit change nor did I think I was particularly visual.
This habit-loop approach has proven me wrong.
In order to gain mastery I needed a (literal & metaphorical) chain of consistency to get me started and propel me forward.
And so far it’s working.
proud of her mama. pondering her own habit-loop.
- Have you succeeded in changing a habit using visual cues to show progress/momentum?
- Have you read The Power of Habit?
Angela @ happy fit mama saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 4:10 am
I’ve done the visual markers on my water bottle when I was trying to get into the habit of drinking more during the day. And now I want to read The Power of Habit.
Bea saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 4:51 am
I need tangible stuff when I I am trying to break a habit. But I usually use reward instead.
Allie saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 5:38 am
Slowly changing some eating habit and it’s HARD but workouts are going better and a lot less hungry so that is pretty much all the reward I need. Day 7, here we go!
…how many days to create a new habit??
Cate saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 5:39 am
I get stuck in the breaking a habit/reward loop 🙂 as sometimes my rewards aren’t as healthy as they should be.
I love your idea.
Susie @ SuzLyfe saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 5:52 am
Very interesting. I can see several way that I could work this into my life.
Coco saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 5:53 am
Interesting. I’m not at doing anything concrete — which may be why my old habits have been so hard to break. I’m going to see if I can think of something like this that will work for me.
glenneth saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 5:57 am
i am using an app called productive to help me with habits
MCM Mama Runs saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 6:20 am
I really like this idea. I have a couple of habits I need to break because they don’t help me in any way (like you, not sure of the reward I’m getting), but they do make me feel worse. I don’t think the loops are my thing, but maybe a jar with rocks or pennies…
And I totally need to read that book.
Pamela Hernandez saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 7:04 am
Love the Power of Habit! I keep my foam roller beside the couch to remind me to do it. Otherwise my calves hate me. 🙂
cheryl saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 7:11 am
Yes it’s all about motivational exchange….
my “visual” are my faces staring back at me at work-do I have THEIR attention? Am I making THEM progress?
Haralee saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 7:38 am
I read the Power of Habit and I loved it because there is real power in making a new habit or readjusting an old one. Your visual positive reinforcement cue is a great!
Shari Eberts saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 7:41 am
I love the idea of a visual reminder / reward to help build or break a habit! I always get a boost when I open my meditation app and see the growing string of days of consistent practice. Hey, whatever works, right?
Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 7:55 am
What a great idea! Kind of like how my coach threatens me with burpees when I complain. She’s trying to break me of the negative self-talk habit I have. It’s very effective–sometimes I stop myself even when she’s not around because I would have to do burpees…
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 8:32 am
I loved those paper chains for countdowns as a kid, and now I can see working them (or something similar) into my life in a few ways. I’d never considered the idea before, but I really think visual reminders might be the key to helping me form/break a few tough habits. Thanks for this!
Sagan saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 8:35 am
See, that’s interesting, because to me “tired” definitely does NOT mean “sleepy.” It has a whole lot of other connotations to it. Such as feeling unheard.
But I also totally get that saying it isn’t particularly actionable 😉
The loop chain is such a good idea. All about the visuals!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 9:08 am
O I love this! I recently just made my own chart big and bright on paper and put it on the fridge (for all to see) to mark off each day I break my “bad” habit!
Rena McDaniel saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 10:11 am
What a great way to make something stick with you. I feel certain that visual aids would help me too. I had never thought about doing it before. I’m horrible about saying “I’m tired or I’m worn out” even when I’m not. That or the annoying sigh…..
Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 10:13 am
I actually started doing this for a stress management course I’m in. So far, it’s been helpful but consistency is key for managing my anxiety.
Yum Yucky saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 10:33 am
I saw that first picture and, immediately, childhood memories rushed back of making the loops. I always enjoyed it so much. I’ve never tried visual cues but I’m going to start right away. You are my online success therapist! xoxoxo
Lindsay Cotter saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 12:46 pm
Me too! And now I have to say… Carla. You spoke straight to my heart and mind. The loops of strength and growth. Vs I’m tired. Thank u
Carla saysFebruary 9, 2016 at 4:58 am
(((runs to add that to her bio. but don’t look. because IM TOTALLY NOT KIDDING :-))
Roxanne Jones saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 11:00 am
I’d never heard of this before, but your explanation makes it so easy to understand–and comprehend why it can be so effective. Gotta give this some thought as to how I can apply it to my daily life. Thanks, Carla!
AdjustedReality saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 11:07 am
I like this idea! I’m trying to not rock the boat too much until after my marathon, but then I’m switching focus and doing something different. I like the idea of having something tangible I can directly control, that’s a reward for following the process, not an outcome (which is not).
Stephanie Weaver, MPH saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 11:28 am
I don’t totally understand… did you give yourself a new “link” in the chain when you got through a day without saying “I’m tired”? Or did you add a link every time you said it? Either way, very interesting. I’m working on something similar. I bought super-cute little stickers and every time I do my morning yoga and meditation I earn the right to put one on the calendar right above my computer. 🙂
Carla saysFebruary 9, 2016 at 4:57 am
SEE? and I LOVE you asked as it was so clear to my brain 🙂 I get a new link each time I either DONT SAY IT FOR A DAY or I ALMOST DO — AND RESIST (hence the not punitive either in removing a link IF I say it or “not counting as a success” if I almost utter).
Lucie saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm
I haven’t heard of the power of habit, but I do benefit from visual cues. I write down my goals and stick them on the wall by my computer where my eye drifts when I’m thinking. It reminds me constantly to speak more French with my toddler, or leave my phone behind, etc.
Carla saysFebruary 9, 2016 at 4:56 am
YES!!! I find I need and really can tap into that too. For me it becomes the backdrop to my life (the posted goals) and I like to think the goals then are always hanging out in my subconscious.
Tina @AMindfulFairytale saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 1:06 pm
I love this idea! The only thing I’ve used for visual cues to break a habit is crossing days off a calender. Hoops seems much more rewarding! Thanks for the idea!
Carla saysFebruary 9, 2016 at 4:55 am
The other morning the child asked why I hadn’t chosen that calendar approach and WHAT I was going to do with all the loops. Im not sure about the former…or the latter 🙂
Jody - Fit at 58 saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 2:16 pm
I have not read the book. YOu know me Carla – so good with habit with certain things & not as good with the daily life things. I feel the tired – mentally tired thing. I have to think this thru – like I have not – but lots to think about always.
Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 2:21 pm
Fantastic! I love how you made that visual. Also love how you are investigating the real source of the problem. Funny that we both posted about the same topic almost simultaneously! 🙂
Kris saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 4:46 pm
When I think of habits I usually think of new habits I want to create. This gives me a new perspective on also breaking old habits I want to eliminate, or at least replacing an old habit with a new one. The books sounds really interesting, thanks for recommending!
Marcia saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm
Love it! MyFitnessPal is counting my sugar-free days for me. Not an easy habit to break but boy I love seeing those days rack up!
Carla saysFebruary 9, 2016 at 4:55 am
OH Id not thought about it that way! I havent spend enough time over on MFP to realize it is, essentially, the same sort of accruing thing!
messymimi saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 6:56 pm
Have not read it, but i’ve created new habits by linking them to old ones. The original habit becomes the cue to do the next thing.
Carla saysFebruary 9, 2016 at 4:54 am
Oh that’s really interesting as well. And that’s my next approach if this one happens to go awry 🙂
Nancy Fox saysFebruary 8, 2016 at 7:50 pm
What an interesting post Carla. I’ve never tried visuals to break a habit. Got to give it a try.
Laurie @ Musings, Rants & Scribbles saysFebruary 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm
Love this. What a perfect way to visually show your progress. Going to remember this. Thank you!
Laura @ Mommy Run Fast saysFebruary 10, 2016 at 6:46 am
This is great, Carla! I use the habit loop worksheet when working with clients with emotional food tendencies to determine which things are triggers and what the alternative behaviors are to break the habit loop. Seeing it visually in paper (or in those loops!) is powerful!
Farrah saysFebruary 10, 2016 at 10:57 pm
I need to read that book! I feel like visual cues would probably help me as well! At the moment, I just add an extra step to existing habits and build it from there!
Abby @BackatSquareZero saysFebruary 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm
I am working on breaking some bad habits, but not being to successful. Maybe I need some visuals.
Jess @hellotofit saysFebruary 13, 2016 at 3:41 pm
I never considered making visual cues! I think I’m a pretty visual person, and doing this would really help.
Yani saysFebruary 18, 2016 at 1:38 am
I usually use reward system to keep me motivated in breaking my old unhealthy habits and somehow, it’s working for me 🙂
Ignacio Sports saysFebruary 23, 2016 at 2:16 am
Interesting post. I start daily workout program and try to make this good thing is my habit.
Personal Trainer Florida