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If you’ve given your habits some thought and you’ve decided that you would benefit from changing a few things, you’re not alone. No one is perfect, so most people would benefit from rearranging some of their habits. You have two choices when it comes to changing your habits; you can create a new habit altogether or you can choose to change an existing habit.

Habits are formed as a result of something called a habit loop. Within the habit loop, there are three components, the cue, the behavior and the reward. Neurological pathways are formed as habits are formed. Habits actually change your brain. Needless to say, this takes time.

Most studies show that forming a new habit takes a minimum of three weeks. Cues or triggers are the signal to the behavior that is the habit. Changing an existing habit will involve using an existing cue. For instance, you’re bored, so you find yourself mindlessly snacking. The boredom is the cue, snacking is the behavior or habit. So which way is best, creating a new habit or changing an existing one? Both can be achieved with persistence and commitment. But arguably, changing an existing habit is easier and somewhat faster. Because forming a new habit requires the brain to form new neurological pathways which happen when a behavior is consistently repeated daily, forming new habits take longer. When you try to change an existing habit, the brain is already trained to act on that specific cue.

You work with the cue that exists; you’ll just need to change the habit itself. An example of changing an existing habit is, when you are bored, instead of reaching for a mindless snack, go for a walk around the block. Boredom is the cue; you now need to change the habit that exists. Whether you choose to change an existing habit or to create a new habit, taking a closer look at your routines and changing them where necessary is a step in the right direction.

All of us could benefit from more self-analysis. If you notice that you’ve formed a habit that doesn’t enrich your life or that negatively affects you, taking steps to rewire your brain will only lead toward self-improvement

 

Burnout recovery specialist, intuitive, and physician Dr. Veronica Anderson teaches high-performing professional women how to make successful career, health, and life transformations by overcoming challenges and developing resilience. She is the author of three bestselling books and splits her time between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Harlem, New York City, with her husband and two dogs, Artemis and Apollo.

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