At the core of every habit lies a psychological pattern. And since habits form us, since they form our lives and how we live, it is only wise to mind them and how they form in our daily routines. Psychologists term these patterns as the habit loop, which is described as a neurological loop that governs any habit. The habit loop consists of three elements; a cue, a routine, and a reward. Understanding these elements can help in understanding how to change bad habits or form better ones, according to writer Charles Duhigg. The cue is the one which prompts a certain habitual behaviour. While the routine is the very habit or repeated behaviour, and the reward refers to what the behaviour does for you. Clere Kagabirwa, a customer care agent, says breaking habits is as hard as forming them. She says habits are irregular throughout our entire lives and that the best way to make the most of them is to understand how they form. “You may want to stop drinking or quit smoking, but because it took you years to build those habits, breaking them might take as much or even more time. What matters is sticking to your goal, and committing that however hard it gets, you are determined to quit certain behaviour.” In most cases, the habits we want to break, are the bad ones or those that cause harm to us or our loved ones, she adds. Things to keep in mind An article published by Healthline states that habits often prove difficult to break since the process is usually more complicated than simply quitting the behaviour. Maybe you would love to stop picking up your phone every time there’s a lull in your workflow, but you probably won’t have much success until you unpack the entire habit loop. Duhigg recommends to first and foremost, identify the routine. Figuring out the routine is the easy part since the routine usually just refers to whatever habit you want to break. Maybe that habit is “sleeping in until you’re dangerously close to running late for work”. Your routine, then, might involve turning off the alarm and rolling over to catch a few more minutes of sleep. Try different rewards. Habits generally develop when specific actions yield rewards. Your phone can give you good news and messages from friends and loved ones as well as provide entertainment. It becomes natural to pick up your phone again and again to receive these rewards. Sleeping in might help you feel more rested, but you also stay warm in bed instead of facing a dark, cold morning. Oversleeping also lets you put off your morning routine for a few more minutes. Wilson Mukotanyi, a web designer, shares his thoughts noting that habits can only be broken with developing other habits. There is no harm in routine; it’s what you are putting on repeat that matters. If the habits are dangerous or unproductive, breaking them is the obvious thing to do. But how do you do that? Be deliberate and consistent with the changes you want to see, he says. “Know the reason behind your need to break a certain habit, and flip that to be your motivation.” Habits are essential in our lives. They have potential to direct where and how far we can go in life. It’s therefore important to break the bad ones down in order to make space for productive ones, which will steer life in the right direction.