We all have goals in life, things we want to do or achieve. Even small aims to keep you healthy, fit and motivated. Today’s article is inspired by a comment about triggers for habits and the importance of triggers to help with achieving goals no matter how large or small they are.
Recently, my husband was telling me that he never remembered to drink enough water throughout the day. Mainly because he was so engrossed in his work. He could have a bottle of water next to him and still not drink it. I mentioned downloading a water app to remind him to drink at least 8 cups of water daily.
He downloaded the daily water – drink reminder app and every time the app sounds he drinks water. He commented on how good it felt to be drinking sufficient water every day. Just the one simple trigger from an app was enough to kick start the routine of drinking water.
Different routines, and different habits all need different cues.
Like most things in life, not one size fits all. We all have different daily routines, different goals and different actions we are taking towards our goals. To create habit triggers we, therefore, all need to look at our individual daily routines.
If the habit of drinking water is something you are looking at, then the app may be what you need.
But, what if the habit you are looking at changing is not something as simple as drinking water. Let’s say it’s to start walking 10,000 steps daily. Walking daily requires finding time in the day, especially walking 10,000 steps.
A walking trigger.
A trigger to walk could be getting up in the morning and putting your walking clothes and shoes on as soon as you get up. Then simply opening the door and going for a walk.
It could also be putting your walking shoes in the car and deciding to walk after work. A trigger for this would be when you finish work. The routine would be putting on your walking shoes and go for a walk. Ok, maybe you may need to drive to the spot you plan to walk at before you put on your shoes and go for the walk. Nevertheless, the trigger is when you finish work, you go for a walk. The reward is a beautiful walk.
A reading trigger.
I know as soon as I get home after work I put the kettle on for a cup of tea. I used to sit and drink my cup of tea in the kitchen, but one day I decided that afternoon tea time was going to be the time I read for 30 minutes. The trigger was the kettle on. That is the cue for me to get my book, and place my book where I am going to sit. I make my cup of tea and then sit and read for 30 minutes.
Habits come from doing things repeatedly. When you decide you want to start doing something new, it is good to attach it to a routine you already have. However, as you bring new actions into your day, working out the best trigger that is going to work for you may take some time. If the goal you have is truly your goal, it is worth persevering and creating a habit trigger to help you take steps towards achieving it.
Related post: Stack habits to achieve your goals.
What are habit triggers?
A trigger is something that starts the action towards the habits. The ‘something’ could be an event, an alarm, a timer, a time of day, or an action.
Choosing a Trigger?
Think about the time of day you would like the new habit to take place. Find something you do regularly, that you can attach the new action to.
When the alarm goes off at 5:30 am I will get up, put on my walking shoes and go for a morning walk.
Example of habit triggers.
On waking up in the morning
After brushing the teeth
Driving to work
At afternoon tea
On the commute home from work
Putting the kettle on
At dinner time
Doing the dishes
After getting ready for bed
This list could go on and on, there are many daily actions that could create a trigger moment.
A writing trigger.
I recently decided to write for 30 minutes a day. The trigger is turning on the computer and opening word. I then set the timer and write.
Cue: Turning on the computer
Routine: Writing for 30 minutes
Reward: Words to contribute to a blog or book
What is the habit loop?
James clear wrote Automatic habits. Where he speaks about the habit loop.
A cue – is the trigger. Time, location, after an event.
The routine – the behaviour you do with the particular trigger.
The reward – The benefit you gain.
Cue: getting up in the morning, putting on walking shoes
The routine: a morning walk
The reward: ½ or more of my daily goal steps walked prior to commencing the working day.
In his book Automatic Habits, James Clear breaks down the benefits of starting with small actions and building upon the actions daily. Check out the book here.
Tracking habits for success.
As I make changes to my routine, I like to track my habits. Place a simple tick to say if done or not in my diary. Some habits I track for 30 days others for 90. Get a copy of the habit tracker to help you track your habits.
One reasons I think a 90 day habit tracker can result in goal success is accountability. There is opportunity to change or tackle any …The reason I like to track habits is I can see my progress or lack thereof. If there is a lack in progress I can look to see if I need to make changes to the cue or the action.
Sometimes if you are like me the action is too big to start with and you need to start a little smaller.
Create habit triggers; Start small, aim big.
If you have a walking goal of 10,000 steps a day, but do not walk much yet. Start small. Start by walking on the spot for 1 minute, or walking to the corner street and back.
If you have a writing goal but don’t write much yet. Start with writing 20 words a day or for five minutes and slowly increase.
If you aim too high too quickly, you are less likely to succeed. Aim small and slowly increase. Each day you will see you are progressing towards your goal.
Get the 90-day habit tracker to help you track your way to success.