As a coach, I’m always looking for ways to making achieving goals a tad easier. During the time I was balancing a 9 to 5 career and my own business, I used to commute into Knightsbridge, London by Tube, I choose to use this time to educate myself via podcasts and audiobooks. I started listening to, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. In his book, he revealed the number one reason why we fail to achieve your goals, and why we keep doing the very thing we do not want to do. The reason has everything to do with the habit loop, which we get some time of reward every time we do something out of habit. Charles explains that all we need to do is change the habit to something that will generate the same reward, but in order for this to be successful, a trigger is required to start the process.
What is a Trigger?
A trigger is a tiny action that leads to performing a habit. A trigger will automatically kick off a habit. A trigger can kick off both good and bad habits, for example, triggers can kick off a gym habit and a smoking habit. A Habit will become automatic after you’ve created an association between the trigger and the habit. This means the stronger the association, the more a habit becomes ingrained. An automatic habit serves your goals by making them easier to achieve. An automatic habit is a preventative measure against fear, which is usually brought about by thought because having to think about taking an action every day is no longer an issue. So, how do you create a trigger for a habit? How do you create a stronger association between a trigger and a habit?
How to Create A Trigger for a Habit
A trigger is created by performing the same thing every day, and an easy way to create a trigger is to use a trigger that already exists. Below are some examples of many events in your everyday life that may serve as a trigger for a habit
- Waking up
- Brushing your teeth
- Eating breakfast
- Checking your email in the morning
- Commuting to work
- Coming into the office in the morning
- A morning meeting
- Eating lunch
- Commuting home
- Arriving home
- Taking the kids to school
- Walking the dog every morning
Let us take a closer look at using waking up as a trigger for a habit. Every time you wake up you automatically triggers your morning routine. Ask yourself, what do you first thing every morning? Are there habits that are a part of your morning routine that no longer serve you? In the spirit of making things easier, consider the actions you need to take on a daily basis in order to achieve your goals. Can any of these actions be added to your morning routine? Every morning, from now on, start to replace the habits that do not serve you with the habits you need to perform in order to achieve your goals. Be warned this isn’t as easy as it sounds because it takes a while for a habit to become automatic. Recent studies have suggested that there is no set time limit in creating a habit which debunks the 21 days to a habit. Expect to consciously perform your morning routine for the next 30 days. It may help, to go through your morning routine, the night before, just before you go to bed. The information that is retained right before you go to bed is processed during the night. This activity alone may help speed up the process. Remember, anything done consistently will become a habit, all it takes is time, so don’t give up too quickly.
If you want to go to the gym every morning, what is the very first thing you would need to do in order for you to successfully follow through? If you put on your gym gear or pack your bag the night before and leave it by your bed so it’s the first thing you see when you get up, you are more likely to follow through and start going. A trigger is anything that gets you to start taking the necessary steps to achieve your goals. If you want to be a writer, the first thing you need to do is create a daily writing habit. A trigger for this habit could be to leave your iPad near your bed and every morning before you get up, pick up your tablet and open a writing app and start writing 250 words.
Focus on the small wins, whether it is opening the writing app or leaving the house with the intention of going to the gym. When you start making those tiny behavioural actions, you are more likely to follow through or continue towards the goal. Once you achieve the first initial step focus on the next tiny step. As a coach, I am a huge fan of chunking down goals into tiny steps. These steps are easy to achieve, and when you celebrate these mini wins, you get a rush of endorphins, which encourages you to move closer towards achieving your goal. Think of this in terms of productivity, if you take out your notebook and write a quick to-do list for tomorrow, you will achieve so much more, and it all stems from one tiny action of pre-planning.
As always insight without action is futile! How are you going use triggers and habits to achieve your goals? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your story in the comments box below. Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting with such kindness and enthusiasm.