We all have bad habits. Maybe you mindlessly munch on chips while watching TV, or you check your phone every few minutes. These habits can sneak into our lives and make themselves at home, but we can change them.

What are Habits?

Habits are behaviors that we perform automatically, often without conscious thought. They’re like well-worn paths in our brain, formed through repetition over time. The good news is that just as we can form bad habits, we can also form good ones.

How to Change a Habit

One way to change a habit is to identify the “habit loop.” This consists of three parts:

  • The Cue: This is the trigger that tells your brain to start the habit. For example, the cue for reaching for a bag of chips might be feeling bored.
  • The Routine: This is the behavior itself. In this case, the routine is eating the chips.
  • The Reward: This is the feeling of satisfaction that you get from completing the routine. In this case, the reward might be the taste of the chips.

Once you’ve identified the habit loop, you can start to change it. One way to do this is to find a substitute for the routine. For example, if your habit is reaching for a bag of chips when you’re bored, you could try reaching for a book instead.

Charles Duhigg and Nir Eyal deserve special recognition for their influence on this image. This representation of the habit loop is a combination of language that was popularized by Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, and a design that was popularized by Eyal’s book, Hooked.

Practical Tips for Changing Habits

  • Identify your habit loops. What are the cues, routines, and rewards that drive your bad habits?
  • Choose a substitute for your bad habit. What can you do instead of your bad habit when the cues kick in?
  • Be consistent. The more you repeat a new behavior, the more automatic it will become.
  • Stay positive. Change is hard, but every small victory brings you one step closer to your goal.


Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are good habits. It’s about taking small, consistent steps towards a healthier, happier you. So, the next time you find yourself reaching for that bag of chips, remember: you have the power to choose a different path. As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”


  1. “Habit Formation and Behavior Change” by Lally, P., & Gardner, B. (2013)
  2. “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Duhigg, C. (2012)

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