By Leo Babauta
For the first few days of this month, I’d like you to not quit your habit yet. Instead, it’s important that you learn what your triggers are.
You might already have an idea, but for three days, I’d like you to be like a nature scientist, observing an animal’s habits in the wild. Just watch without interfering, and take notes.
What are you watching for?
- Anytime you do the bad habit.
- Anytime you have the urge to do it.
- A situation, action, or feeling that precedes the first two (this is one of your triggers).
Basically, you want to be more aware of when you do the habit (or get the urge to do it), and what triggered that urge.
So if you bite your nails, you might notice that you get the urge to do it about 10 times a day, and that the urge comes after 1) you get nervous or anxious, 2) you have an upcoming meeting, 3) you are bored or lonely, and 4) when you’re hungry.
Record your triggers for three days, along with the approximate number of times you do the habit. This is essential for quitting your habit!
Just to give you an idea of triggers you might find, here are some ideas:
- An argument with someone
- Other people drinking or smoking around you
- Being in a bar
- Going out to a restaurant
- Attending a meeting
- Anxiety about an upcoming event/meeting
- Feeling bad about yourself
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling hungry
- Waking up
- Having coffee
- Having alcohol
- Eating sweets
- Eating salty or greasy food
- Watching TV
- Turning on your computer
- Quiet time with nothing to do
These are just a start â€” you might find others. Have fun observing yourself in the wild!