Hang in there, I’m not trying to teach you to brush your teeth, but bear with me as this is a great example that serves to demonstrate a very important example of how habits are formed…
Imagine that you are not in the habit of brushing your teeth. You brush a couple of times a week, but you want to brush at least twice every day.
Let’s start with the morning. When you get up in the morning, you know that you have bad breath. The last thing that you want to do is leave the house with dragon breath and then go to work and talk to co-workers.
That’s why when you first wake up, you are going to spend a few minutes thinking about what it would be like to go into work with bad breath. Imagine the look on your co-worker’s faces and how people would talk about you.
This should properly motivate you to get into the bathroom as soon as you wake up to brush your teeth.
If you want to motivate yourself in the evening, using the same example, then spend a few minutes lying in bed and thinking about all of the bacteria, sugar and rotting bits of food that is still in and on your teeth. You will want to get up and brush them before you go to sleep.
These pre-actions are called triggers, and they are the basis of the neurological process that creates habits. When you have a trigger, you motivate an action. You can create these triggers yourself so that you do the action automatically, and it won’t be a chore. It will be something that you actually want to do.
Creating your trigger is only the first step in the process of creating a long-term habit. You first have to train your mind to trigger the action and then you will perform it. When you do that enough times (which is where the 30 day plan outlined in a later posts comes in) the action will become automatic and you will no longer need the trigger in order to remember to do the action.
It is just as important to be motivated when you are triggering an action as it is to remember to do it. Just because you created a trigger doesn’t mean that you are going to want to perform the habit. That’s why you need to create a benefits list for every habit that you are attempting to form.
Use visualization to motivate yourself to complete an action. When you can see the end result that you want in your mind you are much more likely to do the habit with or without the trigger.
This is just a brief overview of how habits are formed. Stay tuned in for future blog posts (or continue reading them, if you already see them posted) and you will have a much better grasp of the psychology behind forming “power habits” – or “positive habits,” as I’ll refer to them most often – and especially how you can create them with staying power over the long-term.
See you in the next post.
Vertis Williams is a Positive Habits Life Coach and a Mindfulness Trainer. He is a regular presenter at employee and team-development events. Contact him to request more info on his Workshops or on his Coaching Services!