Charles Duhigg wrote and I quote, “you can never truly extinguish bad habits. Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine. That’s the rule: If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same”. I thought that to be very huge and informative especially if you are trying to adopt or drop some habits.

Let me introduce you to habit loop:

  • A Cue – This is a signal to perform a habit. Look at it as a stimulus
  • A Routine – this is the action you take
  • A Reward – What you benefit with on engaging in the habit/act. Sometime I call it the pleasure you derive from the habit.

When you religiously perform and repeat this loop, you develop automatic behaviors.  

This forms the basis of my hunch today, when you understand this loop, if it works in creating habits, you can use the same loop to develop more empowering habits replacing bad habits you have.

Photo by nappy on

For example, instead of smoking a cigar for during lunch break, take a walk and meet your friend in the next office block. Your cue here is the lunch break and your reward is engaging in something stimulating. The Loop is the same but now satisfied by a healthier alternative. The same can happen if you find yourself into a stressful situation, instead of eating out of stress, take a walk or a quick run. The resultant activities become a healthy way of satisfying your need.

I hope you find this helpful. Keep your cue and reward the same. Change the action/routine part with something more empowering. This will help you and safeguard you from reverting back to bad old habits.