According to a university study, approximately 40 percent of our daily actions are habits; unconscious routines we do by rote.
At first, I had trouble believing that. Yet, consider a typical day. Unless it’s an unusual occasion, such as vacation or maybe weekends; you wake up at approximately the same time. You are either a “breakfast eater” or you’re not; habit number one. Should you be of the former category, your morning repast will consist of the same basic items it does every other morning, despite the fact that the average grocery store offers over 40,000 choices from which you can choose.
If you commute to your job, you depart at the same time, most likely down to the minute, traveling the same roads, arriving at the same location, even parking in the same space. Upon arriving, you greet co-workers with the same banter, perform the same tasks, take lunch at the same time (at the usual restaurants), order the same meals, and head home at your regular time.
Yet, that’s not all.
Once safely ensconced in security of your domicile, you’ll engage in the same routines and eat your standard fare at the same time as every other evening. Come day’s end, you’re either a “TV watcher” or you’re not. If you are, you’ve got your favorite shows. If you’re not, you’ll read, knit, or engage in your favorite past time. Whatever your fancy, you’ll do it at the same time, sitting in the same chair, and eventually end your day at the same hour, sleeping on “your side” of the bed and — dare I say it – most likely with the same person as every other night.
This is not to paint a dismal robotic life, I am simply pointing out that we are creatures of habit, pure and simple. We do so because it makes life easier to manage. After all, if every day were completely different from the previous day; it would be exciting — at first. However, after not too long, your brain would hurt. You’d long for regularity. Ever felt, “I need a vacation from my vacation?” That’s it, summed up. We need normalcy.
Habits are not necessarily bad, yet the siren song of comfortable patterns can lure us into routines that may harm us. When that happens, breaking the chain is tough, requiring constant vigilance.
To assist us in making changes, recent years have seen the invention of habit-breaking wearable devices with their companion apps.
Since positive reinforcement has shown itself to be most effective in altering behaviors, most of them utilize that by rewarding the wearer with lights and badges when goals have been accomplished. Yet, not everyone is identical, so an outlier has now made itself know.
A new form of wearable behavior-modification device, Pavlok, is entering the market with a shocking difference. Should you hit the snooze button on your alarm or skip your visit to the gym it literally shocks you, blasting your wrist with enough voltage to remind you that you broke your promise. To add insult to injury, the app can be set up to charge your credit card a fine when you take the easy way out.
The social component of the app steps up the punishment, posting self-shaming messages to your social media accounts; such as “I didn’t do my exercise today.” If all that wasn’t enough to scare you into staying on track, it provides the options of teaming up with a buddy who can views your progress on-line. Fall short of your goals and your friend gets to shock you from afar.
I’ll give Pavlok credit; it’s an unusual technique. However the first behavior I’d change would be to remove the wristband.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known weight loss expert for baby boomers and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com. Check out his new 30-day, two-minute-a-day program to help combat yo-yo dieting in conjunction with Avanoo.com. Find out more at scottq.avanoo.com or visit his website.