Posted on 01 March, 2017

Routines and Habits

By Jacob Andreae in Balls 'n' All, Mix104.9, Radio Show, Lifestyle, Change, Mindset Routines and Habits

[Image source: millo.co]

This week on Balls'N'All, we're all about routines and habits. What makes a habit? What makes a routine? I give you some tips on how you might like to change a habit, or start a new routine. I even share with you some personal habits that I would like to break.

Routines and Habits

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Transcribed Text:

Jackson - What are we talking about this morning?

Jacob - We’re going to talk about routines cause you touched on it with that last segment that we got to 20 minutes ago. And I just really like, I’m loving routines and habits at the moment. And I want to ask you if you think that there is a difference between a routine and a habit.

Jackson - I see a habit almost, so just to the listeners out there I was put on the spot with that. I’m not too sure exactly how to explain it but I do see a habit as something that is hard to control. So something along the lines of it naturally forms and forms in your brain where basically it's hard to control. So basically you have a habit of biting your fingernails, you don’t say ‘Oh, I’ve got a routine where I bite my fingernails.’ I see a routine as something that’s generally got a positive tone to it, and a habit normally negative. So a routine can be something that you force yourself to do which hopefully becomes a habit but I think the routine comes before the habit.

Jacob - So you’d say that a habit is essentially something that reaches automatic?

Jackson - In a way, so I would say that I have a habit of oversleeping my alarm. Or a habit of sleeping too long in the morning. Whereas when I start doing some proper work, or when I have to get into the studio on a Sunday morning, it is a routine. So I follow a routine but I wouldn’t say: ‘I’ve got a habit of getting up early on sunday.’ I would say: ‘Well the habit is sleeping in, but I have a routine to try and stop that habit.’

Jacob - Yeah so if you wanted to say that it was automatic you would be correct. And you kind of, it sounds to me like you're saying that a routine leads to a habit.

Jackson - Yeah, in a way. I think a routine starts before the habit. So basically, obviously I said before habits for me have negative connotations. But yeah, I mean that’s what I think. I think you have to start the routine first, have it in your head before it can become a habit.

Jacob - Well essentially, so yes, a lot of habits are negative and a lot of people recognise their negative habits. But they can be positive as well. So if we were to separate the 2, a routine is more about frequency, how frequently you do a behaviour or an action. And a habit is more about automaticity, and so how automatic it is. So if you’re trying to create a new habit, you essentially need to create a routine first. Does that make sense?

Jackson - Ahhh, yeah, it does Jacob.

Jacob - Yeah so for example something which you do more regular would be a routine, would be a stronger routine. So for example brushing your teeth every morning would be something which is quite routine. Whereas something that you don’t do very regularly you just say for example applying for a job, hopefully you're not doing that too often. Then that’s something which is not really a routine. And then on the other hand you’ve got habits which are more of a automaticity so they’re more automatic. Then you’ve got things which are not really automatic, so for example someone who wants to start exercising, exercise is not a habit for them. And then you’ve got habits which are more automatic which you do more easily. And so that’s where people are trying to get to in terms of their health and fitness essentially.

Jackon - Jacob you mentioned automaticity and I’d just like to give you a bit of forewarning I don’t deal in syllables more than 3 or 4 so that’s why I probably don’t know the difference between a habit and a routine. But I'll put you on the spot here as well, when does a habit become an addiction? So what is the difference? And I know it's obvious when you say ‘What’s the difference between a habit and an addiction?’ It’s fairly obvious on the surface, but purely speaking about definitions here, how would you define an addiction compared to a habit?

Jacob - We’re really getting into punishment and reward here and essentially neurotransmitters are what’s going on neurally inside the body. And something which is a habit, sorry which is an addiction typically has a very strong relationship with neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and those types of feel-good chemicals which are released in the body. And so you can’t stop it, so you are physically, sorry late night last night. You are physically you know, fighting against your own physiology in order to either do or not do a behaviour.

Jackson - Jacob you portray yourself as Mr Perfect but do you have any habits that you would like to break? So what are your worst habits? Personally.

Jacob - My worst habits? Gee, I’m on the spot there, I don’t really have anything that I do wrong. I’m not biting my nails of course, I actually have picked the edge of my nail. All those NLP people out there will, you know, be picking me on that. Oh actually you know what I want to do more of? Say thank you for dinner. This is something that’s possibly going to portray me in a bad light here but Holly my fiance always, well mostly, 99% of the time cooks in our house. And she cooks amazing , when we first met I said ‘She likes to cook and I like to eat so we’re a perfect match.’ And yeah I think she probably regretted that after a couple of years but sometimes you know, like when she’s had a hard day and she’s been working, you know, our kids and getting them organised at night time and I come home from training and you know, waltz in the door and she’s had to deal with 4 little kids, bath them feed them and you know, get them ready for bed. And my dinner’s waiting there, sitting on the bench steaming nice and warm, ready to eat. And then I eat it and don’t say thank you, she gets a little bit upset. And so saying thank you more often is probably a habit that I need to create. But in order for me to do that, I would need to make the routine. And this where I touched on it last week in terms of how you create that, And so if we look at that little triangle shape where we’ve for a trigger, then you’ve got an action, and then you’ve got a reward. And that trigger is the food, so when you see food on the table, say thank you. Inside the action we can break it down into the 4 E’s and we talked about the E’s. The environment, [the ease,] the efficiency, and the effectiveness of how you’re going to create that. So it might be that the environment: I put something up on the wall saying you know, ‘Thank you.’ Little post-it notes saying ‘Thank you’ everywhere. Or it might be something which is easy so I touched on that last week where we talked about creating habits where something that you already do, build upon that.

Jackson - And you’d have to keep that from your wife of course, I mean it doesn’t seem as genuine when you’ve got notes all around the house saying: ‘Say thank you. Please remember to say thank you.’

Jacob - Yeah of course, maybe I hide it in the car or something. But it’s about putting those triggers off in different places but yeah. At the end of the day really is it that hard to say thank you? So you know Jacob I just think you need to get over it and you just need to recognise how good you’ve got it.

Jackson - Yeah well I mean since you ask, my habit that I do very poorly is forgetting people’s names as soon as you meet them. Like literally it could be 3 seconds after I meet someone and they’ve said their name, and I would forget it. And it’s really really poor, it’s a really poor character trait, or habit if you will. Because it makes you seem so arrogant and it makes you seem like you don’t care about the people you're meeting. But it isn’t like that. So I wouldn’t say it’s social anxiety or anything like that but when I’m meeting someone new you try and make a good impression and I’m always focused about trying to get that nice firm handshake and thinking about what I’m going to say to them and introducing myself and that sort of stuff where you forget it straight away. And growing up around football clubs and new jobs and meeting different people it’s just terrible but do you have any advice for me moving forward?

Jacob - Well you’re kind of, you’re touching, so you’re definitely on habits and routines but you’re also on touching on learning and changing something from working memory into short term memory into long term memory. And so you know everyone or most people have heard the thing where when you meet someone use their name 3 times before you leave them or in the next minute, whatever. And that’s just a way of trying to learn something. So you’re at the very beginnings of habit formation but you’re actually more focusing on how to learn something. So you’re trying to learn that person’s name. And so if you can relate something to that so when they say a name think of someone who you know or there might be something that stands out to you about that person. They might be wearing this Hawaiian shirt which, you know. And then they might be…

Jackson - Harry.

Jacob - Harry, and so Harry the Hawaiian or something, I don’t know.

Jackson - Richard the Ranga. Something like that.

Jacob - Yeah, something that you can use to help stick that. If it’s something that’s visual then it’s so much easier to remember it.

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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Routines and HabitsA quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.