R J Comeau - Curriculum Design & Research

HomeKnow ThyselfAnalysisExperientialCritical ConSeminarHypertextsELA 12Contact

Story

Strengths

Goals

Express

Self-talk

Problem solving

Habits

Decolonize the mind

 

Below, you'll find excerpts from Know Thyself on helping students reflect on the habits they want to keep, develop, and reinforce, and which habits they'd like to lose, change, and re-shape, because they are interfering with the student's goals.

Section 7: Know your own habits (stop ones you don’t want, and start ones that you do)

Free-write on the habits that are getting in the way of doing well in school, and heading off to college ready for success.

There are tools in this section to help you end habits you want to stop, and start habits you want to begin.

 

Research has shown that self-awareness of your habits is the first step toward change (Duhigg, 2012).

For today, select one of the prompts below, and write a page or two in response. In coming days, choose a different prompt, or reflect back on an earlier day’s writing, and do metacognition: thinking about your own thinking and feelings, analyzing patterns and looking deeply into root causes.

Eventually, you’ll move on to the sections that help you to form a plan for change.

 

Prompts: Write about …

  1. your habits that you want to keep, that are helping you meet your goals in life.
  2. your habits that you want to change, that are getting in the way of your goals.
  3. your habits around doing your homework.
  4. the habits you would like to develop.
  5. your habits as you see them, and whatever thoughts and feelings you have about them.

 

 

Early in the process, it’s best to just write, to get your thoughts and feelings onto the page. As we talk together about your writing, we’ll look for opportunities to make a plan for tackling your habits, and taking ownership of change.

Next Step: Move from analyzing your habits to the hard work of changing them. See pg. 132.

Habits

Stop the habits you don’t want, and start ones that you do.

Now that you’ve thought about a habit you’d like to change, let’s work on replacing distracting routines with productive ones.

In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes research into the “habit loop” (2012). The cycle of habitual behavior is shaped by a cue that evokes a routine response, which is reinforced by a reward. In other words, something triggers a routine that you do. Maybe being alone in your room and feeling bored triggers a distracting activity, playing videogames. The pleasure you feel during the game is the reward. This reward helps to cement the routine into a habit. This habit can persist in spite of the problems it brings, like poor grades, parental nagging, sore thumbs, and even the loss of pure enjoyment in the experience of the game. Playing the videogame has become a habit.

 

Research has shown that the most effective way to change a habit is to become more aware of its role in your daily life. As you become self-aware of the cues that induce the routine, and the reward you feel after, you can better intervene in the habit, and replace the troublesome routine with a good habit that will help you meet your goals.

Along those lines, answer the following questions that will help you become more self-aware about your habit, preparing you for change.

The habit you want to change:  

When you feel the urge to indulge in your habit, record:

  1. Your location:
  2. The time:
  3. Your emotions:
  4. Who’s with you?
  5. Did anything happen just before the urge?

 

Why do you continue doing the habit? What do you get out of it? What’s the “reward”?

For the next day, record how many times you feel the urge to do the habit. Make note of when they tend to occur. Next class, write your findings here:

Now, see if you can define your habit in terms of the habit loop.

Understanding how your habit got formed is the first step toward change. The next step is replacing the routine that’s causing a problem with a routine that will help you meet your goals. The most effective way to change a habit is to leave the cue and reward alone, and replace the routine.

For example, a smoker might feel a cue of stress or fatigue that leads to the smoking routine, which becomes automatic after a time. The reward involves the physical distraction of going outside to smoke, the social pleasures of gathering with acquaintances who are taking a break, too, and the stimulation of nicotine that satisfies the brain’s sharp cravings. An effective way to quit smoking is to respond to the cue with a healthy routine that produces similar rewards. Some smokers have replaced the habit with running. When feeling stressed or fatigues, they will begin to crave a run, and when the time is right, running can become a healthy routine that produces a physical distraction, social pleasures, and brain stimulation in the release of endorphins.

Can you re-wire your habit with a healthy one, which will lead to better school work, less strife at home, and a more positive feeling about your future?

Habits take time to change, and they take self-awareness. Practice the following technique to increase self-awareness around your old, unhealthy habit and the new, healthy habit you seek to establish. Pick a time period when your habit tends to occur, and record how many times you feel the urge to do the old habit, how often you did it, and how many times you performed the new routine. Ask your teacher for a homework sheet to take with you, and bring it back tomorrow with the results.

 

 

Let’s keep track of your progress, so that self-awareness builds up and helps you take control of your habits.

 

References

Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: why we do what we do in life and business (Vol. 34, No. 10). Random House, Inc.

 

Story

Strengths

Goals

Express

Self-talk

Problem solving

Habits

Decolonize the mind

HomeKnow ThyselfAnalysisExperientialCritical ConSeminarHS ReadingELA 12Contact

Copyright 2013-2015 Robert J. Comeau