Skip to main content

3 reminders you can use to start any habit

I am going to start going for a walk

I have told myself this several times in the past. Guess what happens? I forget to go for a walk the next day. I enjoy walking. I know the many benefits of walking. I have good walking shoes. I have some great paths to walk on within minutes of my house. So why don’t I go for a walk? Its because I don’t set myself a reminder.

The 3 parts to every habit.

Every habit consists of 3 parts:
  1. Reminder.
  2. Routine.
  3. Reward.
The reminder (or trigger) is what initiates a habit.
The routine is the habit itself.
The reward is the desirable consequence of doing the habit.
You can pick a perfect habit with an awesome reward, but if you don’t have a reminder you will never do it. Its like having a light bulb without a light switch or a power engine without an ignition. Unless you have something to make it start, the rest doesn’t matter.


Time is the most common habit reminder. For example waking up in the morning reminds you to have a coffee, get in the shower, and eat breakfast. Your tummy may tell you its time to go get a cookie for an afternoon snack at 3.00pm. Or you may sit down to watch American Baking Challenge at 8.00pm every Thursday.
If you want to change a bad habit, its good to identify the “time” (or “times”) you normally do the routine. Then replace the “bad” habit for a “good” one. For example if you eat a whole bag of chips while you watch American Baking Challenge, replace it with an apple, or do jumping jacks.


Locations are often overlooked reminders for habits. For example, when you walk in the kitchen do you always check the snack cupboard to see what’s in it? Or when you are at work do you get something from the vending machine every time you walk past it? Or do you start singing to yourself when you get in the shower?
When you have a location change forced upon you – for example getting a new job or moving to a new house, this is the perfect opportunity to create new habits.
Also, if you successfully start the habit of going for a run after work every day but aren’t losing weight as you wanted to, look at some of your location reminded routines like eating 3 candy bars a day because the vending machine is right by your office.

Existing habit

Habits do not live in isolation. One habit often triggers another habit. For example brushing your teeth can remind you to do the habit of flossing. Or a new text message reminder on your phone may trigger you to also check facebook.
Linking a new habit to an old one is a fantastic way to increase your chances of success. This technique is called “habit stacking.” For example, if you do your grocery shopping every Saturday morning and there happens to be a gym next door, you could use the grocery shopping habit to get you to go to the gym. Or if you take your kids to baseball every Wednesday at 4.00pm, you can use that to start the habit of going for a run.

As you think about the next new habit you want to build, make sure you pick a strong reminder for it.


Popular posts from this blog

Be Happy. Go For A Good Walk.

One of the best ways to boost your happiness is to get in to the habit of going for a Good Walk.

How to change your eating habits and lose weight

The top New Years Resolution year after year is to lose weight. The first tactic people usually try when losing weight is to start exercising. Going for a 30 minute run will burn about 400 calories. That’s about the same amount of calories as a single donut. You can’t outrun your plate! Exercise has a whole host of benefits but contributing to weight loss for most people is not one. If you want to lose weight you are going to have to change your eating habits. Habit 1. Drink more water.
People often confuse thirst with hunger. If you think you are hungry get in to the habit of drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If you are still hungry then, go for it. As an added bonus, having a glass of zero calorie water in your stomach will help you feel full sooner.

Habit 2. Get enough sleep.
People often make up for having low energy because they are tired by eating. Make sure you go to bed at a time that gives you eight hours of sleep. Sticking to a consistent bedtime seven days a we…

What is WOOP and how can it help me achieve my goals?

WOOP is a science based mental strategy people can use to fulfill their wishes, set preferences and change their habits. The technique is based on 20 years of research and was developed by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. The scientific name for it is Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions. Mental Contrasting is the concept comparing your future wish with your current reality. Implementation Intentions are the practice of deciding in advance what you will do in a given situation. 
WOOP is short for:
W - Wish. O - Outcome. O - Obstacles. P - Plan.
WISH The first step is to name a wish that is challenging but feasible. Set a time frame for the wish. Ask yourself if the wish is dear to you and if it's challenging yet achievable. Once you are done, note it down in 3 - 6 words. Pause and really picture it in your head.
For example: I want to exercise more.
OUTCOME Then think about the very best outcome and imagine it. What would the biggest benefit to achieving your wish be? How would…