Moulding Habits and the Loop

In ‘The Power of Habit’, Charles Duhigg lays down the principle of moulding habits in three simple components – Cue, Routine and Reward. Together these three stops form what he calls the Habit Loop.

Cue – the reminder that prompts us to start the habit.
Routine – the habit in its active stage, taking place.
Reward – essentially, the satisfaction we receive once we’ve completed the habit loop. It is the thought in the brain that tells us if the habit is worth remembering or not.

The first step to mould habits is to identify the cue, routine and reward by writing them down. If it’s a good habit that needs to be adopted in the routine, we can try experimenting with the reward. The rewards are powerful as they make us crave them more by sticking to the routine. On the other hand, if it’s a bad habit – the practical way is to isolate the cue. If there is no cue, the loop doesn’t start.

Let’s say that the habit is being addicted to Instagram. To get rid of this bad habit, I should be eliminating the cues that lead to the action. Here, for example I can disable the notifications or uninstall the app. If it’s something good – studying regularly. To adopt the habit, I can experiment with different rewards such as watching one hour of my favourite show on the days I follow my studying schedule.

Still, I feel that a tremendous amount of self-discipline is required to mould habits. There’s no way to ‘hack’ the loop, it’s all about knowing what’s good for you and having a plan accordingly.