Every New Year, millions of people around the world make new year resolutions. They pledge to build a new habit. It can be to lose weight, stop smoking or learn a new skill. Perhaps, in your business or workplace, you want to create new work habits. For example, making continuous improvement thinking, the only way to work.
How our brain reacts when building new habits
There is evidence that the brain rewards us for fast thinking by activating pleasure centers and punishes us for slow thinking by activating the pain centers. That situation comes from the time our ancestors have to think quickly to survive the elements, animals, and other existential threats. How do you fight against thousands of years of fast responses?
How to build a new habit
Years ago, I was struggling with creating the habit of exercising and started looking for information to learn how to form that habit. I found that the formation of every habit has three steps, a trigger, the routine, and the reward.
The trigger starts the process or habit you are pursuing. It can be a place, a feeling or emotion, time of the day, or a reminder in your calendar. If you are going to do something effortlessly, without thinking about it, your brain needs to know what the reward will be. For our ancestors, the prize was survival. The reward can be a feeling, like the satisfaction of helping others, winning, learning, getting one step closer to a goal, or whatever makes you feel happy or good. The reward must be something that you crave, something that you want to repeat.
After you figure out the trigger and the reward, it is time to create the new routine or behavior that you want to become a habit. The trigger will remind you that it is time to follow the action you want to pursue.
Does this work?
This analysis and the process that follows make sense for me. When I reflected on it, I realize that I unconsciously follow it. As a production planner, I could not visit the production floor on most days. I knew that the only way to find out why we could not follow the schedule was by observing what was going on and talking with the right people. I force myself to go it by blocking time in my calendar. The notification was the trigger I need it to stop what I was doing and go. I didn’t know it, but I was creating a habit.
Helping your team to build a new habit
To help your team to build self-discipline, you have to create some habits for yourself, like going to gemba every day or take time for daily coaching. When your team sees that you are creating habits they will feel compelled to do the same. Make sure that you are consistent, do not fail yourself or the team by not following your daily routines. Building habits to change old behaviors takes a lot of discipline, focus, and more than a couple of months of practice. Of course, this short analysis can also help you with your new year resolutions.