Good habits may be hard to establish and bad habits may be hard to break but both good and bad habits are formed in the same way. There is a cue, a response and a reward. Let’s look at a simple example, your phone vibrates (cue), you check your email (response) and you receive the momentary distraction or pleasure of feeling up to date (reward). That’s the habit cycle, but there is one more critical piece that fuels the cycle to repeat again and again and that is craving. Once someone starts craving the reward that the habit loop provides, established habits begin forming.
Once your brain starts expecting the reward, the cue must will not only trigger the response but a craving for the reward. Manufacturers and marketers use this all the time. For example, Pepsodent was the first toothpaste that created a slight irritation in the mouth, a tingling. Believe it or not, that tingling has no effect on the efficacy of your toothpaste. But,we all crave that “clean feeling” and that helps fuel the teeth brushing habit.
So, how do we use this information to create good habits? Choose a cue and a response. Let’s say exercising for 25 minutes immediately upon waking up. Add a reward, let’s say a treat that you like, a pineapple banana smoothie. Focus on the smoothie and how much enjoyment it brings you. Then start creating the habit cycle by going right into your exercise after waking up and make sure that you provide yourself with the reward right afterwards. After a while, upon waking up, you will crave your smoothie, and your brain will know that you should jump right into exercise. That’s the power of the crave.
Great habits build great people and great organizations. Think about how you can create the appropriate reward for good habits and start using the crave to your benefit.