Have you ever struggled to get rid of a bad habit but didn’t even know where to start?

As you journey through this road we call life, you’d realise that habits can make or break one’s chance of success.

In this post, you’ll be able to understand how habits are formed and the components of a habit.

What is a habit?

A habit is something that you do regularly without having to think about it.

Have you ever wondered how easy it is for you to brush your teeth each morning?

You don’t even have to think about it once you reach for the toothpaste. A few minutes later, you find yourself lost in the act until it’s time to wash the toothbrush.

This is a habit.

Another good example can be seen when you climb into your car to drive to work. The moment you place your key in the ignition, the rest is history and you find yourself driving to work.

You don’t think too much about how to push your handbrake, or where to look in order to reverse or drive out of your vicinity.

I love how Charles Duhigg describes habits, he says:

it’s a formula that our brain automatically follows.

What does a habit consist of?

In order form a habit, there are three things that need to be in place, without any of these three, you would struggle to turn any activity into a habit.

The Cue

This is the trigger that begins the process we call habit. It can be an emotional, physical, behavioural cue that informs us it’s time to begin the specific habit.

You could hear your alarm go off and decide it’s time to bathe.

Or perhaps you could feel stressed after a few hours of work and decided to walk down to the sweets bar to grab a chocolate.

The Routine

This is simply the activity you carry out during the habit process.

It is often what people can see that helps them to identify your habit.

Walking to the sweets bar and eating chocolate is a good example of a routine.

People might not notice you’re stressed until they find you eating chocolate every 3 pm of the day.

Reward

This is what you receive from completing the routine. Just like the cue, the reward can be in various forms, including physical rewards, emotional, etc.

Your reward justifies the reason for your habit and gives you a pat on the back for completing the habit cycle.

This could be the tingly feeling you get once you brush your teeth. Or the rush you get once you exercise.

Whatever the reward is, you tend to look forward to it whenever you are triggered by a cue that begins the habit cycle.

Though these three elements form what is known as the habit loop, there’s one major factor that is needed to turn this cycle into a continuous habit.

This factor is known as “cravings”.

Cravings are the desires or urge you get to complete a routine.

You can have all three elements of a habit loop, but without the craving, for the reward, you won’t be able to build a real habit.