Do you find yourself struggling to develop good habits or break bad ones? Are you tired of feeling like you’re always stuck in the same unhealthy routines? As an adult with ADHD, you know better than most how difficult it can be to change your patterns of behavior. But there is good news! Did you know that there’s an actual science to changing habits? Research on the neuroscience of habit change shows that there are 3 simple components needed to change any habit – the cue, the behavior, and the reward – and all 3 must be present to ensure that the change in habit will stick. Read on to learn how following the simple science you can help you take control of your habits and create lasting change in your life.
The first component of a habit is the cue, also known as the trigger. This is the event or situation that sets off the behavior. Triggers can be external – like a specific time of day or a certain location – or internal – like a feeling of boredom or stress. To change a habit, you need to be aware of your triggers so you can either avoid or modify them. One strategy is to create positive triggers, like setting an alarm to remind yourself to exercise or placing healthy snacks in plain sight. Another example of a positive trigger could be setting your workout clothes out the night before. This simple strategy not only serves as a reminder but also makes the transition from waking up to getting ready for the gym easier.
The second component of a habit is the behavior itself. This is the action you take in response to the trigger. It’s important to understand that habits are automatic and unconscious, meaning you might not even realize you’re engaging in the behavior. To change a habit, you need to make a conscious effort to replace the old behavior with a new one. Start small and be consistent and be aware that the time it takes to create a habit ranges greatly. It can take anywhere from 18 to 261 days! Therefore, a new habit to becoming automatic is greatly variable and based on things such as the context and difficulty of the task, as well as, individual strengths and weaknesses of the individual. Clearly, it may take time to rewire your brain, but with practice, you can strengthen new neural pathways and weaken old ones.
The third component of a habit is the reward, which is the positive outcome that reinforces the behavior. Rewards can be both tangible – like a piece of candy or a social media like – or intangible – like a feeling of accomplishment or a reduction in anxiety. To change a habit, you need to identify the underlying reward and find a healthier way to satisfy it. For example, if you smoke to reduce stress, try taking a walk or practicing deep breathing instead. Or maybe a stop at a favorite coffee shop after a workout at the gym. These rewards for a new behavior creates a positive feedback loop that helps to reinforce the new behavior.
By understanding the neuroscience research on the 3 components needed to change any habit, you can take control of your habits and create lasting change in your life. If making lasting changes in habits has been a struggle, take a close look and determine if one of the 3 ingredients is missing. One missing component can mean the difference in making lasting change. Remember that habits don’t define who you are – they’re simply patterns of behavior that can be changed. Focus on small, consistent actions that align with your values and goals. Celebrate your successes and learn from your setbacks. And most importantly, be kind to yourself while Changing Habits: It’s a Process. With practice, patience, and perseverance, you can master the science of changing habits and create the life you deserve.
If you are looking for more support on changing habits and developing systems in your life or business click below!
GET IN TOUCH