We all have habits.
Mine, is to wake up, check on my iPod Touch what I have to get done for that day, all while still lying in bed.
A new habit I saw forming, was wanting to buy a drink — hot or cold — any time I went out. If I left the house, I felt like I deserved a drink of some sort.
I’ve sort of broken myself of it (it was so hard in the summer, sweating like a pig!), and I am now aware of this urge that almost became habit-forming.
Not all habits are bad however, some can be good, such as getting into the habit of going to yoga every week.
It all became clearer when I read: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
It’s a fast read, and a great book.
How to recognize and change a habit
All habits start in the same way.
There is a CUE, a ROUTINE to address the CUE and the REWARD.
- CUE = Cookie craving at 4 p.m.
- ROUTINE = Walk to cafeteria at 4 p.m. to eat cookie
- REWARD = Cookie
- SIDE EFFECT = Bad for your wallet and waistline
If you notice yourself receiving a cue, such as in my case, going out of the house and seeing a Starbucks, my routine would be stop by the Starbucks so I can grab a green tea latte to hold in my hands while I walk around downtown, and my reward is the drink itself, although the side effect of this bad habit was it was starting to cost a lot of money.
To change this habit, you have to recognize the cue and change the routine to obtain a different reward.
Give yourself another reward.
In my case, when I went out and DIDN’T buy a drink, my routine changed and my reward was to allow myself to feel good about not buying the drink.
I would open my budgeting and expense tracking spreadsheet, feel good that I didn’t spend $3 on a drink (I like expensive organic stuff), and feel much better about my net worth staying stable.
It worked even better if I had a goal, like a dinner coming up I’d have to pay for. I’d calculate that in 10 times I didn’t buy a $3 drink, I more than paid for that dinner.
I also mentally felt better (less sugar in my body), and had money for other more useful things.
A treat is best left as a treat, not as a routine.
Where to learn more about this
If you want a preview (or maybe don’t want to buy or borrow the book), here are some videos you can watch instead.
This video by Mr. Duhigg is 40 minutes long.
….but a shorter version (4 minutes) is here: