What is a Habit, How do They Work and How Can I Change Them?

Do you have any habits you could do without?

If you nodded your head – well done (awareness is the first step to change). Habits are quite often learnt and therefore can be changed (although sometimes your need to be persistent and many habits are on autopilot).


What is a Habit?

Habits –

  • “are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously” – according to Wikipedia
  • “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance”Meriam-Webster Dictionary
  • “a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition”the Free Dictionary
  • “something that you do often or regularly, often without thinking about it”MacMillan Dictionary


How Do Habits Work?

  • First there is a trigger or cue (e.g. location, time of day, emotional state, thought, belief, other people or a pattern of behaviour)…
  • which then triggers a routine (i.e. ask yourself what triggers the behaviour itself), and
  • then you get the reward you want (identify what reward is driving your habit – maybe what are you craving or averting?)


How Can I Change a Habit?

  1. Identify the habit you want to change/break.
  2. Determine the trigger/cue of this habit.
  3. Identify the routine of this habit.
  4. Identify the reward you are getting from this habit (i.e. what are you craving or averting?).
  5. Once you have identified the trigger/cue, routine and reward of the habits you are wanting to change, then you can consciously choose a different behaviour. However, remember it can take some time to change your habits, so be kind to yourself!


Over to You…

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Reference –

Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. USA: Random House.


Website Page Reference –

If you would like to reference this work, please use –

Taylor, J. (2012) What is a Habit, How do They Work and How Can I Change Them? [WWW] Available from: https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/what-is-a-habit-how-do-they-work-and-how-can-i-change-them/ [Accessed …….. ]


Thanks in advance for honouring my work 🙂


  • basit

    Reply Reply April 23, 2021

    Dear Jane, hope so you are fine. coming to the point i am working on my book and during my search i came to your article i would like to ask you a question. can i use your article as a reference if you allow me? please do reply me

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