“Success is a habit.”
You’ve probably heard this quote before? It’s true, although technically, it’s a series of habits.
If you listen to the experts – the people at the top of their fields – they talk about habits such as continuous self-development, planning their days, making time for their people and monitoring their progress towards their goals.
Those are all important goals, but there are plenty more to consider. Today I’m not going to talk about the habits you should choose, but instead I’ll focus on how to form the habits you want to adopt and teach your team.
If you’re a Learning and Development Manager or business Leader, you more than likely regularly work with people to change habits or processes within the organisation. It’s important to understand how habits form so you’re equipped to help others break bad habits and replace them with the new.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a habit is “something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it.”
You are where you are today because of your habits.
You’re the person you are today because of your habits.
However, there is more to it than that.
Researchers who study habit put it like this.
“Habits are behaviours which are performed automatically because they have been performed frequently in the past. This repetition creates a mental association between the situation (cue) and action (behaviour) which means that when the cue is encountered the behaviour is performed automatically. Automaticity has a number of components, one of which is lack of thought.”
Other research breaks it down even further, pointing to three components – cue, action and reward.
Let’s look at an example.
Say you want to develop a daily habit of keeping your inbox under control. You need a trigger – a cue – to remind you to do it. Your cue might be returning to your desk after lunch. The time triggers your action. Your action is to sit at your desk and work on your emails for the next 30 minutes. Your reward might be the feeling of success you experience when you finish the task. It might even be allowing yourself to move onto something you enjoy more.
How does all this help you form new habits?
Well, this approach is based on the way our brains work. If you’re working with your brain instead of fighting against it, you’re much more likely to develop the new habits you want.
Start with one new habit. It will take 66 days to become embedded into your subconscious as an automatic process.
- Choose the habit you want to adopt.
- Cue: what will trigger your new action? If you’re breaking an old habit, pay attention to the cues which prompt you into the old ways. Is it the time? Location? A person? You’ll need to avoid those cues and replace them with new ones of your choosing.
- Action: Do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t skip it because it’s too hard. Keep working at it so the habit sticks.
- Reward: Your habit should reward you in some way. If you’re not enjoying the habit, it won’t last. What makes you feel good about your new habit? If you need motivation along the way, reward yourself at the end of your first week for sticking with it.
Any time you introduce change into your teams, you’re asking people to change their habits. It’s not just a change of procedure, it’s much deeper than that as you will now realise.
Can you rewire the brain for new habits? Sure, you can! It doesn’t have to be difficult.
If you’d like to know more about how the brain can help you and your team achieve peak performance and support your new habits, download my free whitepaper. It will help you lead your team to Peak Performance.