Your net worth in the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones – Benjamin Franklin
We all struggle to form good habits while we realize how vital they are to our success and fulfillment. No matter how good our intention is, we keep failing to wake up early, exercise, meditate and do things which can truly elevate our life.
I figured out a 5 steps approach to forming a good habit and how I became successful in creating many good habits.
You can do it too with the technique described below.
Each habit has two elements, the before “trigger” and the after “benefit”.
If you notice at workplaces, people go out to smoke. Before they go for smoking, something triggered them, it could be a thought, some stress or a particular event (e.g. lunch time). This is the before “trigger”.
The second aspect of a habit is the after “benefit”. Each habit brings a result or benefit after doing it. A smoker would experience a (fake) increase in energy levels after smoking.
Changing your habit is not about the habit itself. It’s about making conscious use of before “triggers” and the after “benefit”.
Equipped with this understanding, here are the 5 simple steps you can follow to form a new habit:
- Identify the habit you want to create. For example – waking up early, writing, reading book, exercising, meditating. Choose an easy one to begin with.
- Find the necessary motivation. Think about the benefits or results you will get of out this new habit and write it down on a piece of paper. The reason should be strong enough to get your butt off the chair.
- Identify the before “trigger”. Study your daily schedule and write down potential trigger points you can use to insert the new habit. Choose a before “trigger” based on your intuitive judgement.
- Take action. Now that you are clear about your before trigger, take action (associated with the new habit) right after it happens.
- Keep doing it. Don’t give up, if you fail for a few times. Keep trying and your mental energy will gradually align to your repeated efforts.
Here is a real life example of how I used this method to form my reading habit.
I was struggling to finish reading books.
I could identify the after “benefit” of reading book as “being able to add value to my blog readers and training course participants by bringing fresh knowledge”. This motivation was strong enough for me to get started with habit of reading books.
Next, I needed to find a “before” trigger which I can use to insert my new habit. I realized that during afternoon, after lunch, I had formed a default habit of watching TV for a few minutes. The default trigger of “TV after lunch” could be replaced by “Book after lunch”.
Now, as soon as lunch is over, I have my book lying on the table, ready to be picked up. In a few days, reading book after lunch became my default behavior, I no longer needed any conscious effort to do it.
Using this technique, I successfully replaced many old habit with the new one, such as:
- Wake up early
- Going for Exercise
- Meditating regularly
- Reading books
- Weekly reviews
The key to a habit change is to focus on the process, not the result.
Small actions compounded (over time) reveal massive results (positive or negative)!
What small action you are going to take ?