How to change your habits and 5 I can do right now.

I’m rereading Habit – very good if it sounds interesting to you – and thought that applying some of that information would make it even more powerful.  The golden rule of habit formation is:

to change a habit you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward but insert a new routine.

For example, after dinner I used to always want a sweet dessert. My cut was that dinner was finished, my routine was to eat chocolate and my reward was the pleasant feeling of sweetness.  Since reading the book I’ve replaced the routine part with a piece of gum and this change has been a resounding success.

Originally I thought about titling this post “How to change your habits and 10 you can do right now” but shining a light on my own life would be much more relevant.

  1. Exercise.  Exercising makes me feel really good but so does coffee and donuts and Iron Man 2 on Blu-Ray.  My new cue will be that I want to watch a movie, the routine will be watching a movie while on our elliptical machine and the reward will be the movie and exercise.
  2. Spend less time at imgur.com.  My reward is seeing images that that uplift me but the routine to get there is really time consuming.  I’ll try to setup an IFTTT filter to get images straight to my inbox and then get the same reward from viewing them there without dipping into the site.
  3. Train my good for nothing dogs. I’ve always thought that people who say they have dumb dogs are dumb with dogs and I’m no exception.  I want to start training them more but instead choose to write blog posts like this.  The reward would be a sense of accomplishment for doing something that improved my world and the routine will be training the dogs instead of typing.
  4. Clean some parts of the house instead of watching some parts of a television program.  Sitting down in front of the TV once the kids go to bed is pretty common but cleaning the sink of dishes is not.  If my reward is a sense of relaxation maybe offering glass of wine with TV after the kitchen is done would vary my routine to include more cleaning and less commercials.
  5. Spending money on things.  I’m not sure how this one could work. I’ve established a no-purchase hold on books and clothes for 2013. My guess is that my reward of feeling accomplishment is fulfilling areas that were satisfied by the sense of buying things.
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