One Simple Way to Form Good Habits

What’s the number one reason we do most things?

A. It’s good for us
B. It’s fun
C. We did it before

You might be surprised that over half of what we do is simply because we did it before, in other words, out of habit. So, what if you want to change a habit?

The first step is to decide what you want to change. If you want to give something up, what do you want to do in its place? Jeremy Dean, in his book Making Habits, Breaking Habits suggests we link the action to a specific situation. For example, instead of saying, “I will eat more natural fiber-rich foods,” you would say, “When it’s meal time, then I will eat two natural fiber-rich foods.” I call this, the "When…Then" strategy. Here are a couple more examples:

When I get home from work, then I will go for a walk.”

When I’m tempted to eat a second piece of cake, then I will eat a piece of fruit instead.”

A couple of things to keep in mind when putting your, “When…Then” strategy together:

  1. It is better to use events to cue your behavior than time; otherwise you will always be looking at the clock. Events don’t rely on memory.
  2. Keep it simple. The simpler the “Then” the easier it will be to carry out.

Here’s how I use the "When…Then" strategy:

When I’m working on something that can be done just as well on the treadmill as at my desk , then I will work from the treadmill for at least 40 minutes.”

“Oh, look, the treadmill’s available. Guess what I will be doing for the next 40 minutes?”

What’s your "When…Then" strategy?


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