As we know, ‘on your mark, get set, go’ signals to runners to move to their starting point, get ready to run, and start running. Once the brain develops the routine and connects the cue to trigger the action, there is no more procrastination, contemplation, excuses, etc. You just do it! As consistent action is taken neural pathways become stronger to strengthen the habit. I have never been on a track team, but still to this day from years of P.E. I get the urge to go get in place when I hear, “On your mark’. Adding a cue or trigger is just one ingredient to solidify a new habit.
Research has clarified that the most effective way to shift a habit is to determine and maintain the old cue and reward when creating a new habit, so that you are only changing the routine. We will talk more about the Reward portion in tomorrow’s post. For now, what do you need to know about the cue?
The cue triggers the brain to tell you it is time to take action. Consider your morning routine. You know your deadline for waking up. Once up you almost automatically go through actions until out the door. When adding a new good habit choose a cue that will help to:
1) remember to act on your new habit
2) strengthen the neural pathways as you repeat the routine
3) support your success in order to lose the weight, make more money, gain the knowledge or skills you want, etc.
A cue (otherwise known as trigger) can be a:
~ Particular Time- EX: At 8am you will handle the top priorities of the day and check email at 10am.
~ Preceding Action- EX: After feeding the dog in the morning I will put on my exercise clothes and head out for a morning run.
~ Thought- EX: An old thought pattern says, ‘I don’t want to’. Shift it to, ‘Do you prefer to travel or stay in hospitals? Travel! Now let’s do this!’
~ Location- EX: As soon as you walk in the house you put your car keys in their home space so you never lose them.
~ Person- EX: When you meet someone new you introduce yourself while shaking their hand, listen to their name, repeat their name back in conversation numerous times so it sticks.
Notice in the above examples that the cues stay routine: 8am, feeding the dog, the old thought pattern that shows up, walking into your home, and meeting someone new. It is the routine that you are changing. Remember, keeping the cues and rewards the same increase your chance of success in sealing this new habit in place.
So what will be the cue that will let you know it is time to take action on your new good habit. Put it in place and tomorrow we will discuss the rewards!