I wrote last week about The Seinfeld Method, one part of a two part strategy that has helped me to stick to a daily workout schedule for the past 11 weeks in a row after 2 years of not working out.
Today I want to share with you the other half of the strategy – the Habit Change Formula.
The habit change formula goes like this: Cue – Habit – Reward
The Cue is the event or thing that triggers the habit.
The Habit is the thing you do right after the Cue.
The Reward is the benefit you get from doing the Habit.
All habits follow this formula.
So if we want to change our habits, then we need to understand the Cues because we are going to drop the new habit in right after the Cue so it replaces the old habit.
For 2 years I was stuck in the habit of “not” exercising. I couldn’t figure out how to fit it into my schedule.
But using the habit change formula in conjunction with the Seinfeld Method, I was able to not only workout again, but workout every single day for the past 11 weeks straight.
Step 1: Find The Cue
The first step was to figure out what my daily routines or habits are and then look at what “cues” are the precursors to those habits.
I also wanted to make sure I am consistent with this so I wanted to find a consistent cue and habit.
The most consistent part of my day is in the morning before I leave for work. What happens after I walk out the door can vary quite a bit.
So I looked at my morning routine and realized that the first thing I do after I have my coffee and the kids are all taken care of and ready for school, I head upstairs to jump in the shower.
I figured I could spare about 5 minutes right before getting into the shower to do my new workout routine so I decided my shower would be the cue for my new routine.
Step 2: Replace The Old Habit With The New Habit
The old habit was to just go upstairs and get into the shower. Now, I decided to replace my old habit of getting right into the shower with a very quick workout.
To be completely honest, I was really shocked at how well this process works.
The first few days it felt a little weird because I had to actually think about doing my workout before getting in the shower.
However, after about a week or so, I stepped into the shower and immediately I felt like something wasn’t right.
This is what happens when our brains create a habit loop. The brain expects things to go a certain way and when they don’t, it sends a message that something is wrong or out of order.
Try doing things out of order in the morning and you’ll see what I mean. Things just feel out of whack.
This is because the brain likes things to happen in an expected pattern because when things happen in a repetitive way, the brain can kind of run on cruise control and conserve energy.
It’s our body’s way of making sure it is efficiently allocating resources (energy).
So when you tell your brain your making a change, it has to use more energy to figure out what’s going on.
That has actually happened a couple of times and there have been days when I consciously decide not to do my workout before the shower and something else really cool happens.
It’s almost subconscious but as the day goes on, I remember at random moments that I need to do my workout.
But the coolest thing is, it’s not a stressful kind of reminder. It’s actually something I look forward to now, even if I’m really tired.
That to me is proof that this Cue, Habit, Reward thing and The Seinfeld Method really work. I have literally created a new habit that is actually exciting to do, regardless of how good or bad I feel.
Step 3: Create A Reward For Doing The New Habit
I couldn’t think of a reward but I didn’t want that to hold me back so I just started this without any “planned” reward.
However, as I’ve come to realize, there are several intrinsic rewards that come as a result of doing the new habit.
The first is the satisfaction of putting that little “X” on the calendar after I complete my workout. It’s really quite shocking how good that feels.
Putting that X on the calendar sends a message to my brain that I am focused and consistent.
It’s like the ultimate affirmation.
I have struggled throughout my entire life with focus and consistency and I think it’s done some damage to my confidence and belief that I can achieve what I set out to achieve.
I’ve probably failed at 90% of the goals I’ve set for myself over the years.
There are countless books, projects and ideas that I’ve started and never finished.
No matter how much excitement and determination I’ve had, I almost always have failed to stay focused and finish the things I start.
It’s actually kind of embarrassing to admit that.
But that is changing now.
Each day that I mark that calendar with an X sends the belief that I am someone who is consistent. I am someone who follows through with what I set out to do and I can achieve the things I really want in life.
I know that sounds very Tony Robbins-ish but it’s the truth and it feels incredible and that reward is greater than any external reward I could have conceived.
When you prove to yourself that you are not broken and you can change your results, you can change the course of your life with just some simple changes, the benefits are immeasurable.
So please do yourself a favor. Try this formula out for yourself. Just freaking try it.
Print out a calendar (I use a Google Calendar).
Find a “Cue” in your daily routine.
Add a new Habit after that Cue.
And then just start.
Start right now.
Do the new habit.
Mark the X on the calendar and go about your day.
Then do it tomorrow.
I promise you will be amazed at what you discover about yourself.
And as always, if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.
You can ask below in the comments section or CLICK HERE to send me an email through the Contact Form.
Now go print your calendar!
Next Article In This Series: What To Do When The New Habit Becomes Boring