How to Develop New Habits: Hack Your Brain in 3 Steps

The brain makes an action a habit whenever you feel good during the execution or immediately afterwards. Whether it is developing good or bad habits, the brain always proceeds in a 3-step habit loop: 

Step 1: Trigger such as specific location, time, emotional state, a person, another proceeding activity
Step 2: Activity that your brain understands it needs to automate each time it gets the trigger.
Step 3: Reward or the “the feel good” state during or after the activity the helps your brain decide whether it’s worth “remembering”, i.e. turning this activity into a routine.

Try the following sequence:

1. Define a concrete, measurable goal 
Very important: Start small. The first habit you want to develop should be as small as possible. If you manage to get used to something new, it will give you a feeling of satisfaction, which in turn will motivate to continue. Let’s say your goal is to lose 3 kg. 

2. Choose a trigger and a reward that fits your existing routine
If you would like to loose a few kg, you might consider reducing your calorie intake and eating nutrient rich foods. Do you drink coffee? If so, then use your coffee ritual as a trigger for your new routine: Upgrade your coffee to a creamy vegan Bulletproof drink (recipe below!) and skip a meal. Why? We listed the benefits below. Reward yourself on a weekend to create that “feel-good” emotion. Celebrate the fact that you followed your plan for five days in a row. Remember: positive emotions make sure your brain “saves” and puts the habit on “autopilot.” Without positive emotion, you will run out of motivation and… most probably give up.  

3. Design your environment accordingly 
Give yourself an opportunity to achieve your goal by eliminating any obstacles that might be in your way. Don’t buy and don’t have (and don’t hide) any foods at home that might prevent you from following your routine.

4. Measure your progress 
What gets measured gets done. If you do interval fasting, use the Zero app. Write a journal. Take pictures of yourself. Have something that allows you to see where you’ve started and where you’ve come (not how much is left!). This step is ultra important. 

5. Prepare for the cheat days 
It’s OK to “slip and fall” sometimes. It’s not OK to beat up yourself, feel disappointed or else. Enjoy the little exceptions. And then get back on track asap. Research shows that if you skip something 3 times in a row, you will most probably quit it. Hack your brain and cheat smart!

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