5 Powerful Triggers to Create Success Habits And Make Them Stick
Before we understand the five triggers which make new habits stick, let’s look at the core mechanism which puts a habit in its place. Once you understand the habit loop, you can create success habits that will last forever.
There are three elements of the habit loop – cue (trigger), routine, and reward. First, you get a cue, then you act out the habit, the routine, to get the reward. For example, when you’re with a certain friend, you always want to talk about sports and tell them how your favorite player is the best and not theirs. It’s almost become a habit and it is still fun. The cue is your friend, the routine is talking about sports, the reward is a sense of pleasure and camaraderie.
Once you become aware of such cues or triggers in your life, you’ll be able to eradicate bad habits and form good habits which will improve your health and help you succeed.
Trigger 1: Time
Time is the most common habit trigger. If we wake up early in the morning, we feel like exercising, getting things done, and perhaps getting a head start on our work. For example, many people may feel bored and or tired after work, and that is why they might turn to negative habits like heading out for a few drinks, smoking or scrolling through social media.
How to use this to your advantage? To create success habits, first decide which new habits you want to install in your life. Then choose a time to practice the habit every day. So if you want to exercise, choose a time where you’ll not feel very tired. The key is to fix the time. Once you practice the same habit every day at the same time, it’ll come naturally to you. Studies have shown it takes around 66 days of consistently performing a task to make it a permanent habit. That means if you do anything (positive or negative) for 66 days in a row, it will form a new groove in your brain and be almost guaranteed to last a lifetime, unless you break it be forming a habit in opposition.
Trigger 2: Location
Location (or environment) is perhaps the most powerful trigger when you want to create success habits. If you are in a high distraction environment, you might try to kill the time with internet surfing or playing games on your phone.
If you are in a no-distraction environment with no access to entertainment, you are more likely to read a book or work on an important project.
How to use this? If you want to build a new habit, it’s best to start it in a new location, or create a new environment. If you work on a computer and frequently get distracted by emails, surfing the net or social media, make a habit of closing all additional windows and tabs, including email until AFTER you have completed your most important tasks.
Trigger 3: Preceding Event
You just ate a delicious dinner and now you want the dessert. You got a message on your phone, but when you opened saw a Facebook notification and now you want to open it. There is a sale on Amazon and now you want to buy something. These are preceding events that trigger your behavior.
How to use it? Tie a habit with a simple preceding event. For example, if you want to install the habit of brushing your teeth every day, you can install it with dinner. Dinner becomes the preceding event, and every time you have dinner, you will head to the bathroom to brush your teeth, this way you are telling your brain that is the end of the eating for the day.
Trigger 4: Emotional State
Your emotional state is a huge determinant of whether you’ll take positive action or indulge in a bad habit. For example, only when you are stressed you might get an urge to eat more, smoke or drink. Only when you are bored do you want to browse Facebook or search the best deal on Amazon even though you don’t need to buy anything.
How to use it? Become more aware of your emotions. So if you are feeling tension in your body or mind, use this as a cue to relax. So every time you feel tensed, you’ll listen to music, practice deep breathing, or go on a short walk. Tony Robbins frequently talks about the power of getting ‘in state’. You can do this many ways, through your physiology, through listening to something positive and powerful, through exercise or affirmations.
The key here is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. It’s a bit hard to do because of our distraction-ridden lifestyles but can give you huge leverage if you master it.
Trigger 5: Other People
Jim Rohn, one of the greatest personal development coaches of all time, once said that you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. Your social circle has more influence on you than you can imagine. If your friend goes to the gym, you are more likely to go to the gym yourself. If your friend gets fat, your risk of obesity goes up by 57 percent no matter how far your friend lives away from you.
How to use it? Limit or break contact with people who pull you down or have values in opposition to you and start spending time with people who have habits aligned with your own.