We all know what a habit is. And for better or worse they exert a massive influence over our lives.

This is  not a treatise on human behaviour. It’s only a quick heads-up on the DNA of a Habit. It is important because around 40% of our behaviours are habit driven, according to people who do write treatises and books on this subject. This, however, is what you absolutely must know and manage….

The DNA of a Habit

Without getting all double-helix on you, there are 3 core elements to a habit:

  1. The trigger (or Cause or Cue): The thing that starts the habit process. It is usually an emotional response to some stimulus.
  2. The routine: The thought processes or physical behaviours that we get into in response to the trigger. It is important to know that this second stage, alone, is not the habit.
  3. The reward: What we get when we do the routine, which can be physiological or emotional.

Once we know the DNA of a habit we can understand how habits work, and this understanding helps us to do something about it.

We also have to recognise that no matter how negative, unpleasant, or destructive the consequences of our habit is, there IS a reward there somewhere.

Of course, we are all different and, in the real world, one size fits nobody, so how we go about making, breaking or changing habits will be different for each of us. In my next post though, I will outline a simple approach we can all use to build and reinforce the habits that support our ambitions in work and life generally.  Meanwhile, if you have any observations I’d be delighted to read your comments below.

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