How To Disrupt A Habit

Think about it.

Seriously. If we want to change a habit, we must think about it. Become more aware of it. When is it triggered? What is the payoff we receive?

On the road to having more of what we want in our lives, we will encounter roadblocks. Lots of them. They will show up as our counterproductive habits.

We want better health and yet we still take the extra helping at mealtime, often without realizing. We want more happiness and yet we still yell obscenities when we get cut off in traffic, ratcheting up our stress levels. We want more connectedness yet we continue to distance ourselves from loved ones when they don’t meet our expectations.

These are the moments to notice what we habitually do and ask ourselves; if I continue this habit, will I ever become the person I want or live the life I envision?

Our habits not only include our behaviors but also our thoughts. Nothing happens without thought. Thoughts make up the many complex software programs that run 24/7 within our minds. Also known as our beliefs.

Becoming aware of how we habitually think about ourselves, our lives and the world is critical to disrupting counterproductive habits of thought. Doing so –  without judging ourselves for what we discover is called mindfulness.

There is no reason to be upset with the habitual patterns we uncover (although most of us will default to shaming and blaming ourselves for being so “stupid.”) Instead, it’s actually a reason to celebrate…. and then get to work changing the habits into something which aligns with our highest goals.

Being mindful of our habits of thought and behavior puts us in the power seat. A position of impartial witness to our lives, which gives us the ability to see what needs to be done differently, without angst.

So how do we actually make changes in our habits?

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg shares methods for transforming unproductive habits into ones that serve us. The key is to understand what benefit we receive from the unproductive habit and substitute a different, more productive action that provides the same benefit. We will never stop a habit with willpower alone because the benefits are too strong to overcome. It is simply easier to work with the habit rather than fight against it. Check out our Ready? page for more on this.

Also, Dr. BJ Fogg, a researcher from Stanford University offers a free Tiny Habits program that teaches how to create new, lasting habits with a simple 5-day program. The key is to anchor the new habit to an established habit, forming a strong link that sustains behavior change. Kind of like adding a new line of code into an existing program – instead of writing something from scratch.

It is possible to disrupt the habits that get in the way of what we want. More than just possible, it’s also our responsibility. Our lives are shaped by our habits. Yes, external events and people influence our lives, but how we habitually respond to the external is much more critical and wields far wider influence.

To disrupt a habit means to consciously rather than passively choose what we will do to get what we need.

Think about it.

What habit can you disrupt today?


Today’s 5-minute action item-Pick a habit that you want to disrupt. Figure out the payoff of the habit and different actions you can do or thoughts you can think that are more productive yet still give you the same benefit. Write them down..more than once. Play the scenarios over in your head.Make it real for yourself.

3 responses to “How To Disrupt A Habit”

  1. Great stuff Jo-Aynne, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Definitely agree that habits are complex and because of this we need to invest time and patience if we want to alter our habits to form more healthy ones.

    Whilst I have a passion for exploring the habit forming process and like to think I am more concious of my habits, I also find myself getting stressed in traffic from time to time, as you stated.

    Loving the content, keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

    PS – On a related note, I’m on the hunt for feedback for my new show The HERO Podcast! It’s all about creating healthy habits, and making those new year’s resolutions become a reality. You can check it out (and maybe leave a short review if you like) here:

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