The Science Behind Habits and The Guide For Learning New Habits Efficiently
If you look at people around you, you must have come across people from whom you feel inspired. You look at them in awe, maybe for the skill they possess or because of their mastery in a domain where you look to make a career.
It could be your sister, father, or even someone from your locality.
But have you ever wondered if you also could become just like them? Or even better.
Every individual is because of their set of habits. These habits mold them into a certain way that allows them to pick additional patterns and skillsets which improve them and record better success.
Frankly, it is possible in every justifiable way for you to learn the skillset provided you put up the effort.
Some people believe that to become great at anything, you must be born with it. Either you have it or not. Our education system has been reaping on the ideology that you must be a prodigy if you wish to triumph. You can not even comprehend how many talented individuals have wasted their inner talent because of this dogma. They let the artist within them die. But, time has changed, and so has the medium by which you can learn new things.
With the help of recent discoveries in neuroplasticity, there have been pieces of evidence that tell us we can learn new skills and traits. We can become masters at any skill if we are ready to labor for it.
Neuroplasticity tells us that deliberate practice indeed can make us good. Research has shown that new neurons get built when learning new skills for a prolonged time. Old and redundant nerves become silent, and new skills take over.
You can become the best version of yourself if you are ready to devote hours and hours to work, planning and learning.
But that is not enough. You must follow a definite framework, such that you sow the habits deep inside your brain that it almost becomes automatic.
The methodology you will read here is not only to learn a new skill but for simple habits that you wish to blend in with your daily routine.
A phrase that I feel is quite deserving of being mentioned here and will motivate you to learn a new skillset goes like this-
Any habit you wish to install within your mind must be learned by following 4-fundamental steps. The fundamentals are so versatile that you can use them to learn any activity you wish.
Let us dive deep into the science of learning them.
1. Finding Cue
The first step for us is to find the cue or create one. The cue is the trigger that tells you that this is the time to perform the activity, consciously or unconsciously. Anything that causes you to act on a particular thing is a cue. It can be planned triggers or unplanned triggers.
Such as, if you want to get up early, your alarm could be the signal to wake you up.
If you want to write an article or novel, dedicated time should be fixed for you to start writing.
Sometimes writing down your motives also helps. Discover the reasons that excite you to learn it. Why do you want to do that? Is it serving you any purpose? Is it helping you grow?
Why is this necessary, you may ask?
Writing down these answers, you will understand your objective & purpose, and it will encourage you to continue it every day until the habit becomes automatic.
If you aspire to learn any activity that requires you to sit on your workstation, then you can hang those reasons in front of your workstation. So whenever you pass through it, you stay focused and sit down at the allotted time.
The trigger notifies you that you need to perform the activity, so you must do that immediately as soon as your trigger comes into motion. If you linger, you will not execute it as your conscious brain will tell you to delay it a little bit. This particular scenario happens if you want to start waking early.
Your brain will ask for a little bit more, and before you know it, you may have already spent the early hours within the comfort of your bed.
2. The Routine
The second step to instilling a new habit is performing the activity itself.
The time you must spend each day to become a master varies. But the thing you should focus on is spending more and more time in that activity and learning as much as possible.
If your activity interests you, devoting much time will not be an issue.
It makes little sense if you do not like the activity and perform it even if it does not bring you any pleasure.
But if you dive into a new profession, you will struggle in the early days to find that kind of flow. It is a genuine problem. But that is why it is said that success is in the journey, not the result.
Do the activities that benefit you, which raises your higher self.
Keep learning and applying them in your daily lives. Slowly but surely, you will become better and appreciate the outcome.
What if you want to perform an activity that does not interest you? But only you have to do it?
In that case, you can try the sandwich theory.
Say you have Task A and Task B that you love doing. Now you have a new Task C at your hand that is not that interesting but needs to get completed. What you can do, is sandwich Task C between Task A and Task B.
In this case, what happens inside your brain is that slowly it starts accepting Task C as not so mundane and boring. Because when you sandwich it between your two favorite tasks, your brain is still active and elated by performing those tasks, and slowly when you repeat this task over and over again. It starts accepting them as similar jobs and does not feel that difficult to perform.
3. The Reward
The third step of our learning process is rewarding ourselves. Having to put down so many efforts and not rewarding yourself is being harsh on yourself. Our brain is like a small child. It comfortably grasps things with which it finds pleasure. When you feel comfortable and happy while doing any activity, it is due to the hormone known as dopamine. When you reward yourself after any task, dopamine production inside your brain accelerates.
Continue this for long enough, the brain will create new synapses, and a habit will get stored within your brain. You would feel like doing the task more and more, ultimately improving your skills. So, Reward yourself in an organized manner to stay motivated and focused. Rewarding yourself continuously after achieving small triumphs in your journey keeps you going. It helps in making the learning deep. The neurons we mentioned will be built according to these interactions and implanted inside your mind. So, the more you reward after achieving said plans, the more you would be motivated to perform them.
Final Step: Repetition
The last step in the strategy of learning new things is repeating the cycle. The human body is nothing but a collection of habits. You are your habits. So the better habits you choose better you become. And to create powerful and effective rituals, you must perform them consistently.
When learning a new habit, you likely drop the work at the first moment of distraction. And it makes sense. Your body is unknown to the routine, it has not hooked itself to the habit, and your brain will try to jump from this task to any other old habits that give your brain the kick it wants.
How To Tackle It?
If you are interested in learning new habits, then you must prevent unwanted disturbances all around you. Such as shutting down the mobile and keeping it far away from you so you can work on your assignment.
Moreover, having a proper timetable can allow you to have a dedicated time slot for the activity without affecting your other routine.
Want to know the secret to create a masterpiece routine?
Check the article below.
If you have followed through the article till here, you might have understood the science behind creating new habits. Now I have a question for you.
Can you use the same technique to un-learn any habit? Especially the bad ones that are creating a drag in our day-to-day performance?
The answer is, Of course, You can use it.
Want to know how? Then read along.
The Science To Un-learn A Habit:
The trick to unlearn any habit revolves around the same clues that help you install any ritual. All habits start with a cue.
The first thing to discover is finding the cue for your bad habit. Say you are in the habit of eating a cookie or any junk food whenever you go from your workstation to the storage room. You see the cafeteria in between, and you end up buying the cookie. In the very early stage, it does not make much of a difference, but as the routine sticks to your body, you start gaining weight, which is evident.
So how to find the cue? Why it is that whenever you want to go to the storage room, you end up at the cafeteria.
There can be numerous reasons.
1) You are hungry.
2) The work is not engaging enough. Thus to give yourself some fresh air, you get up from your workstation and end up in the cafeteria.
3) Your chair is not comfortable, and this causes you to take frequent breaks from your work.
There could be numerous other factors as well. But for the sake of keeping this article short, we will consider the above 3 cases.
1) You really are hungry:- If this is the case, maybe you need to check the food you have been consuming. It could be that your food is not providing you with enough nutrients. Make it more nutritious by adding more fruits to your daily diet. Maybe, you might need to change your oil for better content.
2) The project is not engaging enough:- It is possible that the work you are doing does not appeal to you. You could try the Pomodoro technique, where you do a task for a certain time and then take a dedicated break. And in this break, you can deliberately choose not to go to the cafeteria. Instead, you can go to your friend’s station for some friendly talk.
This method can reduce the interaction between you and the cafeteria.
3) Your chair is not comfortable: If your chair seems to be the problem, then you can raise a request for the changes so that you can sincerely do your task.
You need to find the cue, the habit that causes you to take a course of action, whether willingly or unwillingly. These habits are called the Keystone Habits. The foundational habits create a chain reaction of routines causing you to do things you do not even know you are doing. In our case, eating a cookie and gaining weight.
If you have any habit that you would most likely want to lose, consciously keep a check on yourself and see what are the actions preceding the habit that causes it.
I am highly elated that you have made it here. You have understood, both the science to learn and un-learn a habit. This methodology can be proved to be beneficial as you can consciously choose which set of habits you want to incorporate and which habits you want to lose.
Habits are powerful. So choose them wisely.