We don’t think of habits as bad or good. But what most people consider a “bad habit” is just an unconscious behavior that will never lead you to the outcomes you want. A routine is something you engage consciously. Training conscious routines will ultimately lead you towards any outcome you’d like to create. In this article, Inner Matrix Systems presents tactics for doing just that.
Habits are, by definition, behaviors you engage in without consciously thinking about them. But they don’t just happen. They are a learned reaction to certain stimuli. They follow a predictable trigger-behavior-reward pattern.
Every time you find yourself grazing in front of the pantry or reaching for your cell phone to scroll your social feeds mindlessly, there is a pattern at work. There was a trigger followed by the behavior that you have learned will produce a reward.
Identifying the triggers for your unconscious habits isn’t always easy. There isn’t necessarily an apparent connection or relationship between the stimulus and the behavior. If you are stressed about work, you may find yourself looking for something to eat. What’s the connection between stress and food? The answer lies in the reward.
When you are stressed, you seek comfort. You have learned that food satiates you and brings you comfort, so voilà, a habit is reinforced.
If you’re unsure what triggered an undesirable behavior, stop and think about what was happening just before the behavior. Note what you were doing and how you were feeling. You will begin to recognize your trigger-behavior-reward patterns.
These three suggestions can help you break habits and replace them with conscious routines
- Simply practice becoming aware of habits you are engaging that will never produce the outcome you want in life. When you become aware of yourself engaging in a habit, take note of the emotion you feel or the emotion you felt right before engaging the habit. Ask yourself if the habit will ever lead to the outcome you want. Will eating this cookie ever produce six-pack abs? Will procrastinating on this work project ever lead to a promotion? Will scrolling through Instagram ever lead to a sense of confidence and power?
- Next, think about the outcome you would like to create. For example, if the outcome you’re wanting to create is love and connection with your partner, what are some actions you might take? Focus on how you will feel and the things you will do once you have reached your outcome. When you have love and connection with your partner, perhaps you will go to the movies together or write a sweet note to leave on their car. Picture yourself doing those actions and feel the emotions of love and connection.
- Every time you become aware of yourself engaging an unconscious habit, simply follow the steps above to train yourself to a new way of being.
By naming the outcomes you want, aligning your emotions, and training your mind, you can create the trigger-behavior patterns you need to replace old habits and achieve new goals.
About Inner Matrix Systems
Inner Matrix Systems, based in Denver, is a personal mastery training system for high achievers. For more than twenty years, IMS has delivered a proprietary methodology that rewires, trains, and aligns the nervous system, emotions, and thought strategies to create real-life results. CEO, Joey Klein, and IMS have worked with more than 80,000 individuals from around the world through both live and online training programs, as well as one-on-one coaching. Clients have included: Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca Cola and The World Health Organization. Joey is the author of The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results (June 2021).