In designing a better life, it’s imperative that one breaks old habits and then carve out the new and desired habits that lead to this ‘better life’.

There have been a thousand habits I have tried breaking, using all possible and momentarily available will power and yet, boomerang to the previous status.  The painful(or in some cases amazing) truth is that our successes or happinesses are tied to these habits.  I have identified this and so I will list out here the flow that significantly determines how we build habit. Based on this flow, I can easily master both bad and good habits.

And the flow is this:

  1. There’s a call 
  2. The call needs a response
  3. And a response ultimately leads to gratification, whether good or bad. Gratification is always the end point.

For every habit, there’s a call(for example, thirst). Then there’s a response(in this case, the old habit to take a bottle of coke). There’s the gratification(the spike in the head with that satisfying sip). You can put this in your own context.

So what I have started doing is.

  • I first identify the calls to the habits I want to break. Right here you have to find ways to identify the call before it comes through. That’s the most important thing. So in the case of the soda, I found out that I was more tempted to drink Coca-cola after a meal. That was the call I identified!
  • You have to respond! Yes, always respond! Your response is usually the action of the habit. In the case of the Coca-cola habit, I had identified the call(as in the last point). I got my water(the new habit) or in many cases soda water ready before the meal starts and then I respond to the call by drinking the water right there and then.
  • So what’s the reward? I identified the reward for my Coca-cola addiction as the sharp pleasant spike at the back of my tongue(and maybe my brain) as I took the first sip. With the new habit, my spike was the carbonated fire from the soda water. Or in many cases, I had identified the reward as the sweet taste in my mouth after eating. So I got some candy ready for after meals.

This flow or framework doesn’t only work for killing bad habits. It also works with forming new habits. In this case, the flow is different.

  1. The gratification
  2. The call
  3. The response

What’s the gratification for the new habit? Would this make you feel better? Will your lifestyle improve? Will this be really good? Will people notice? There has to be enough to power the gratification scale . Then the next question should be ‘what type of call can I give to trigger a response’.

Of course, if you’re interested in changing an old habit for a new one, you need to realize that it would not be easy. You need to be prepared. You need to work on it. Your first task(and the true sign that you’re ready) is for you to sit down, analyze the call, identify the response and then ask yourself what and why you need this gratification.

This has so far worked for me. You let me know if this works for you. You can comment below, let me know how you deal with your habits.