The cue is the trigger that sets you off toward your bad habit---it can be: location, people, emotion, situation, time. And the response is, of course, the habit. The reward, also obvious, is how you feel after, the benefit you get. Like when you its 3 pm and you think "snack time" so you head to the vending machine for a candy bar and you get a nice break in your afternoon and some energy. Or you go to a restaurant with friends and always order fries and nachos and get social interaction. Or when you are stressed out by your kids fighting bedtime and you eat a bowl of ice cream and feel comforted. So to break the habit cycle you have to find another way to respond to said cue, but it has to be something of similar benefit. You can't just IGNORE the 3pm internal alarm and power through. You need to create a new ritual that gives you the same feeling of energy & relaxation. You need another coping mechanism for your bickering kids and another way to socialize with your friends that isn't unhealthy food. You know, the usual. There is nothing new here.
But I think directly applying this thought process to my current habit-change challenge may prove useful. What triggers me to jump onto facebook or blogs? And what benefit does it give me.
Triggers: boredom, wanting connection, feeling stressed/anxious/sad, brain needing break
Reward: feeling connected, entertainment, numbing/distracting from negative emotion, mental break
Lets explore these triggers a little. Boredom is self-explanatory on the surface but there is complexity in its depths. When did I become so uncomfortable with just my own thoughts? Why do I feel the drive to pick up my phone even while waiting 30 seconds for the light to change? Connection is something I seek a LOT at work and fairly often at home. I am in my office many days for 8-9 hours with no real connection to anyone. Sure I may have go to a lecture or attend a conference call and I call patients back most days but there is no actual social interaction with peers. Sometimes you just want to laugh, commiserate, tell someone about your day, ask someone about theirs, share a cup of coffee and get out of your own head. I have no one to do that with in my current situation, so I hop on the internet for that. And yes, my brain does need a break. I can't keep intensely focused on a task for hours at a time, its good to step away and refresh.
So how can I meet those needs in other ways? I haven't completely figured this out. Things I'm going to try: daydreaming, just BEING bored and letting my mind wander. Sending emails to friends and family during my breaks rather than just clicking through facebook or reading blogs, and at home, texting
Another point the tutorial made was that it was fundamentally important to understand WHY you wanted to make a change in your habits, or you were unlikely to succeed. The answer to the question you will ask yourself a million times as you white-knuckle your way through the day without cigarettes, or junk food, or facebook: "Why the F am I doing this again?". "Because its good for me" isn't good enough.
The answer to this has changed for me, and become more honest and (hopefully) more motivating. Its not just that I'll be more productive and more present to my family. I'll also actually enjoy my work and home life more. I LOVE those times at work when I can be deeply focused, in the coveted "flow state", and same at home with a project or task. I am so happy when I can lose myself in play with my kids (or even better, just watching them play, and reveling in the cuteness!) or conversations with my husband. I also love blogging and reading blogs and keeping up with friends & family on FB; its a hobby that I'm not planning to quit anytime soon. But instead of keeping it confined into certain periods of my day like I do with my other hobbies, I'm letting this bleed over into all aspects of my life. Spending so much time checking on facebook posts, blog comments, and emails is preventing me from enjoying my life!
I'm gathering up strategies and debating how drastic I want to be with this challenge. I'll post my action plan on Monday!