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The most important part about developing habits, in my opinion, is understanding what is the activity, situation, emotion or whatever that makes you follow the routine. The brain must receive a signal that instructs it to activate a certain habit.
So, the first part of the habit is the prompt – an activity that puts the brain in automatic mode and tells you what habit to use. Scientists have made it clear that the prompt can be anything. Something that you see, a certain place or time, an emotion, a sequence of thoughts, or a group of people. In principle, seeing chips or staying in the same room with some people can prompt some of your existing habits.
A prompt is needed to start the habit.
What to do with this knowledge now? If you want to create a new habit for yourself, you should start by finding the prompt. Create a switch that pushes your brain to realize that now is the time to exercise, drink a glass of water, read a book or do something else useful. Don’t reinvent the wheel, just use what you already do on a daily basis. For example, brushing your teeth, eating lunch, taking a shower, driving a car, talking to coworkers etc. Choose an activity that fits your new habit and immediately after that do your wonderful new rewarding ritual.
The first habit I consciously created for myself was drinking a glass of water in the morning after brushing my teeth. Of course it was difficult to remember this at first. I took a post-it note and wrote on it: “After brushing my teeth in the morning, I will drink a glass of water”. I put it on the wall above the toothbrush. To make the new activity as easy as possible and effortless, I put a glass near the sink so I wouldn’t have to look for it in the kitchen. After a while of conscious effort and observation, drinking a glass of water in the morning became an automatic activity for me.
Find something that you do every day and connect this activity with your new habit
I advise you to start with a few simple activities and not engage in big, complex and difficult life-changing habits in the beginning. The first habit you create should be as small as possible: an activity that does not take more than half a minute, does not require any effort and you can do it on a daily basis. Take one current activity or situation that you experience everyday and turn it into a prompt for a new habit.
Certified Tiny Habits® Coach
Creator of Habits Mastery