The Habit Loop
- Cue: How can I make it obvious?
- Craving: How can I make it attractive?
- Response: How can I make it easy?
- Reward: How can I make it satisfying?
Any habit can be achieved with the Habit Loop: cue, craving, response, and reward. Practiced enough, your brain will pick up on the cues and make the habit automatic.
The 1st Law of Behavior Change is to make it obvious.
Every habit is initiated by a cue. Time and location are the most common.
To create new habit pair it with a current habit which has a specific time and location. James calls this Habit Stacking.
Habit stacking is a strategy where we pair a new habit with a current habit. The habit stacking formula is: Before/While/After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]. Here are a few examples…
- While [my coffee is brewing], I will [do ten squats].
- After [I shower in the morning], I will [meditate for 2 minutes].
- Before [I watch the morning news], I will [read one chapter of a book].
The 2nd Law of Behavior Change is to make it attractive.
If we make the opportunity more attractive the more likely it is to become habit-forming. Temptation bundling is one way to make your habits more attractive. The strategy is to pair a habit you want to do with a habit you need to do. Habits are attractive when we associate them with positive feelings and unattractive when we associate them with negative feelings.
The new system will be a motivation ritual: do something you enjoy immediately before or during a difficult habit.
- For example, you want to [read celebrity gossip], but you need to [get in better shape]. Temptation bundling implementation: I only read my gossip magazines while I’m on the treadmill.
The 3rd Law of Behavior Change is make it easy.
If you want to build a habit you need more action and less perfection. Imperfect Action is the your “gateway habit” that eventually leads you to achieving your ideal goal. Worry about perfection after you’ve created the habit. You can’t improve something that doesn’t exist.
- Want to exercise more? Go to the gym for only 5 minutes per day. After a few weeks you can increase it to 10 minutes per day. They key is to getting to thy gym and become the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts.
Conventional wisdom holds that motivation is the key to creating a new habit. Realistically, we follow the Law of Least Effort and naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.
To combat human nature, we need to create an environment reduces the effort associated with good habits. When friction is low, habits are easy.
- Want to eat healthier? Schedule and prepare your meals in advance. There is nothing more counterproductive then coming home from work with no meal plan. You’ll be tired and probably order a pizza.
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The 4th Law of Behavior Change is to make it satisfying.
We are more likely to repeat a behavior when the experience is satisfying. One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling Don’t break the chain. Try to keep your habit streak alive.
Never miss twice. If you miss one day, try to get back on track as quickly as possible.
Stick to the schedule; Don’t let life get in the way.
We Hope You Achieve Your New Years Resolutions
This book ranks in my top 3 best productivity books I’ve ever read. Atomic Habits is an easy yet entertaining book to read and backed by scientific research. You can skim to the end of each chapter with a summary and important lessons.
If you’re looking to make 2019 the best year ever, this book is for you. Learn the easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones!