Chicago’s Rollout–Change a Habit (1)

On Chicago’s Rollout radio program on Friday, February 21st from 6:30 to 7:30 PM CST, I covered what a project is (see last post).

I wanted you to explore for yourself what a project is by doing a project for yourself, namely, to change a negative habit you have or to establish a positive habit that you would like to have.

However, before you start on your project to change a habit, you should understand something about how they work.   If I ask you to identify a bad habit, that shouldn’t take you too long to do.   In my case, I noticed that I was biting my nails during the third broadcast a few weeks ago, and I wanted to try to stop doing that.

So I got the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.   In the book, he shows you how to understand your habits by analyzing the habit loop (I’ll describe this below).   I have been working on stopping this bad habit for the past few weeks now, and then I realized it would make a great example project for those of you who are listening to the program.

Before you set up your project, let’s understand HOW to change a habit.   To do this, you need to understand the habit loop, which consists of three steps:


In the case of biting your nails, researchers studying the brain have shown that the CUE or TRIGGER is either boredom or nervousness, both of which create tension in the brain.

The ROUTINE of biting one’s nails creates a sharp sensation of irritation and even momentary pain.   This is what causes the REWARD of a lessening of tension, because when you have that irritation or momentary pain from biting your nails, it relieves that tension which the brain wants to get rid of.    By tying these three elements together, your brain has now created a habit loop.

So knowing this, how can we use this information to change the habit?   That will be the subject of the next post!



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