Habits are fascinating traits… So how do they work.?

By Mark Laker
I signed off last month writing about habits and said I would share some thoughts in this months article. Hopefully you’ve created a habit at reaching for the next CSJ article so you’re keeping up with my writings and were expecting this piece.

Mark-Laker-aginotes-goal-setting-2-web

Habits are fascinating traits

We have them, animals have them, we consciously and unconsciously create them, we find bad ones hard to break and good ones hard to create. So how do they work.?

Our brains have evolved to create habits out of repeatable tasks. For example: breathing, blinking, swallowing. We don’t have to consciously think about performing these acts they’re habits or processes that are running in our sub-consciousness all the time. This allows our conscious brain to focus on the immediate things around us that mostly related to our fight, flight or fight instincts. e.g. don’t walk out in front of that bus, don’t put your hand in the fire etc…

Other habits like smoking, drinking, gambling are difficult to break because our brain gets a shot of dopamine –  a reward-motivator, each time we perform the habit which makes us want to repeat it. The habit loop is a bit more complicated than this, but essentially we get a reward for performing the habit when we receive the cue or get the desire.
There are other types of habits that we can apply to sport, goal setting and objectives – this is where it gets interesting. Latest research shows that creating a habit to achieve something you want can be more effective than goal setting. Now before you rip up your 2019 goals, targets and objectives (what do you mean you haven’t written them yet!). I should make it clear that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating habits, it’s down to individuals.

Like blinking and breathing if we can perform a repeatable task enough times, our brains commit this to our sub-conscious and hey-presto! It’s a habit …. we don’t have to think about it any more, it just happens. Like tieing shoe-laces or riding a bike, once learnt you don’t have to re-learn it.

As an example, if we do something everyday that takes us closer to our goal e.g. 15 minutes training our dog, or 20 minutes walking, or fitness training, or researching a new training technique eventually we’ll create a goal-related daily habit.

Research has shown that your sub-conscious takes over and natural instincts start guiding you towards your goal.

I’ve been experimenting with this idea for six months and so far its working for me. I’m finding my formed habit now finds time in my schedule each day for activities that take me closer to my goals.

Habits are fascinating traits if you’re interested in finding out more about how they work and how to break them read ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg.

Have a great Xmas and New Year.

Mark
Mark Laker
Agility Team GB International Team Manager

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