I brushed off my old copy Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit recently. The reason? I had been ingesting a lot of pastries and cake again.
Charles Duhigg describes how habit can be formed and how it can be changed. He calls this the habit loop. It composed of the Cue —> Routine —> Reward.
He breaks it down like this:
- Cue is some type of trigger that unfolds a set of behavior automatically. A cue can be a certain time of day, a place, an emotion, or being with a certain group of people.
- Routine is the set of behavior that is automatically unfolded because the cue happened. This can be a good routine, like walking up early and exercising, or a bad habit, like smoking when you feel stressed.
- Reward is the most important part, because that is why habits exist.
If you can figure out how to change this loop, you can change your habit.
After a year and a half of not craving sweets, I had been eating cakes, cookies, ice cream and pastries.
Well, I have not been very disciplined about sleeping lately, since my daughter, E, is on a summer break. Which means I didn’t have to wake up at 5:30 am —>which means I didn’t have to be sleeping by 9:30 pm —> which means I can catch up on my Netflix and accept dinner meetings.
I purposely didn’t accept dinner meetings l when E had school because I wanted to have dinner her. But during the summer break, we had so much time together even after dinner plus her cousins was sleeping over = had non-stop playdates. I felt it was okay to get home a bit later than I normally did.
But the thing is, I still needed to wake up early for work the next day. So i have been sleep deprived for almost 2 months now, and my old habit of leaning on my mental power crutches – coffee and sugar – gave me comfort like a warm shawl when the air-conditioning is set at 17c. Based on this,
- The Cue was feeling sluggish.
- The Routine is eating a lot of cake and pastries to feed glucose to my tired brain.
- The Reward is the feeling of alertness.
I definitely had to change the cause of my cue — sleep deprivation. As they say in criminal law, the cause of the cause is cause of the evil caused
So I’m going to sleep now. This should remove my feeling of sluggishness, which erases the trigger for my routine of eating pastries and cake, and give me the feeling of alertness in the morning and for the whole day.
What habit would you like to change today?