Habit creation. What is it?

March 1, 2022

“Change your life in just 30 days!”

“21 days to create a habit!”

“Form new habits while you sleep!”

We have all seen the catchy headlines trying to sell us systems, books and products that promise help with achieving new, positive habits. Unfortunately, many of them fall into the ‘Myth’ category.

However, if we approach the challenge armed with some understanding of what habits actually are and what works in their creation, it can the make process a whole lot easier!

Habits: your brain on autopilot

The human brain has many extraordinary abilities and automating frequently performed activities makes our lives so much easier. Just imagine if every time you stood up to walk, you had to do it like a toddler and focus on every movement!

We have all experienced walking, cycling, or driving a familiar route and doing it unconsciously. This frees up valuable brain-space for other important tasks (or not-so important ones, in the era of smart phones…)

Getting into the habit

Habit scheme

One study suggests that, on average, it takes around 2 months to establish a new habit. But there is huge variation in individuals and, depending on the person / habit, it can vary from 18 days to 254!

It’s proven that developing positive habits is the key to a much fuller, happier, and more successful life. And although it can take a while to get habits to stick, the payoff is so worth the effort!

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”  

Gretchen Rubin, Author

People who’ve engaged in sports or fitness activities for any length of time will be no strangers to the benefits of positive habits. Regular, diligent training pays off. And those who don’t get the habit often find their motivation starts to fade over time. Like dieting, a fitness regime that is not habit-based often fails, and people end up back where they started. 

The secret sauce for developing new habits

James Clear, author of the international bestseller Atomic Habits, knows a thing or two about the process of habit formation. He explains the 4 key components and how they lead to habit formation: 

Cue, craving, response, reward. The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue. Together, these four steps form a neurological feedback loop—cue, craving, response, reward; cue, craving, response, reward—that ultimately allows you to create automatic habits.”

Once you understand how the habit formation process works, you can use the insight to build good habits and squash those bad habits too! Look for the cues and cravings, be aware of your usual responses and how rewards are keeping the habit going.

Whether it’s smoking, hitting the booze a little too often, or indulging your fast-food cravings, we all know how certain habits can lead us into trouble. But understanding the process gives us a better chance to tame our more damaging impulses and live a healthier life.

Overcoming the ‘snack attacks’

Bad habits are rarely eliminated, but they can be replaced with good ones. Both time of day and the environment can be triggers. Mornings can mean workouts and muesli for some, but coffee, pastries, and a mad dash to work for others.

Habit cues are a big part of the problem… and the solution. Coming home from work becomes associated with a beer or glass of wine. Switch on the TV, out come the snacks… But these associations can be modified to our advantage.

Try putting out exercise clothes or equipment ready for the morning or after work. And if you’re using Airofit, placing the trainer where you’ll see it can be the trigger to another good daily habit.

Consistency is key – also when it comes to your breath

Breathing habits

Performing positive habits with consistency can have huge impacts on many aspects of your life. 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”

Will Durant, after Aristotle

Try out a new habit for at least a couple of months. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session. Just try to ensure you are doing the desired habit in a consistent way. If you are starting with breath training, you’ll be surprised how quickly you begin to see results. Not just the results measured by the app, but also in how you feel and what you can do. 

“A few days in usage, my concentration level improved. I can focus better and longer on the breathing sensations during Anapana practice as novice meditator. Weeks later I noticed that I was less likely to get out of breath when walking upstairs and breath more through just the nose. Respiratory muscle training through Airofit exercises gives me more energy during the day and has become part of my morning routine.” Airofit user Vincent Visser

Motivation gets you started. Habits keep you going

Feedback from Airofit users tends to support the general observation that having a set time of day allocated to doing breath training is more effective than waiting for the right mood, or the right level of motivation. And for those who do get the daily training habit, the benefits stack up pretty quickly. If we have to rely on motivation whenever we need to perform some important task, we soon find ourselves struggling. We’re only human and, for most of us, motivation is not a limitless resource. So, make it a habit and see how much easier it becomes.

“Was skeptical at first but I have seen significant improvement in my performance. As a keen road cyclist and asthmatic, I have been Using it daily for the last six weeks as the training plan advises. My cycling statistics report growth in many metrics.” Airofit user Matt

A habit of success

Breathing training habits

Jhonatan Restrepo showing off his lung improvements days before his first Stage victory of the season.
Read more here.

All of us can benefit from the power of positive habits. Challenging ourselves to keep going and give the habit a chance to stick, could change your life. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a regular Joe/Joanne, the effects of positive habits build over time. It’s like interest on your savings (remember that?).

Behind every winner and every success story, there was a person trying to be a better version of themselves. A person with a goal and the motivation to try. The rewards might be gold medals, better fitness, or simply good health. But by making the behavior a habit, you give yourself a fighting chance to succeed.