A habit loop is a feedback loop induced by our habits. It was introduced by Charles Duhigg in his book, Power of Habits.
In his book the habit loop was divided into 3 parts:
Cue: The trigger
Routine: Our action sequence because of the trigger
Reward: What our brain gets out of it.
Although James Clear broke it down into 4 parts instead of 3:
The enhanced “Habit Loop” consists of 4 parts:
Cue: Anything that triggers your habit. You witness something, something happens, you think about something.
Craving: A feeling triggered due to the Cue. You want to do something.
Response: You do something to satisfy the craving.
Reward: Your craving is satisfied due to the response and you feel relaxed/ better/ happy/ angry etc. It also helps the brain decide whether that habit should be repeated or not.
In this Cue and Craving are the part of the Problem Phase and Response and Reward are the part of the Solution Phase.
The habit loop dictates and alters how we will respond to the Cue. So every change you do in any of the factors in the loop your brain gets a different result. Like any change in the Reward will alter the Cue next time around.
Similarly avoiding a particular cue will alter the craving, response, and reward too.
If you avoid going to the smoking zone then you might not have a craving for smoking and as a response, you won’t smoke. Then the reward would be the feeling of accomplishment and you might feel proud of yourself.
When you keep altering the habit loop and develop a positive momentum, a flywheel effect starts coming into play and things start getting better at a faster pace.
But at the same time, this will happen for negative momentum too. “The trick is to have a more good habits than bad habits”, to keep getting better with time.