Monday, 17 October 2011

Trigger You Consistency – A Valuable Key for Habit Change

What will you get from reading this.

You’ll be able to change your habits that much easier by using triggers. Change bad habits into good ones and adopt new habits because ‘triggers’ keep you consist. Consistency is gold when it comes to habit change.

Hangovers are like motivation, they never happen at the right time.

How many times have you heard yourself or a good friend say ‘I’m never drinking again, never ever, not after last night!’ But as the hangover goes so does the motivation to stop or drink less. A day later it’s ‘I’m cutting down. I’ll just have a couple.’ And a couple of days later when you start drinking again, the hangover’s gone, the motivation’s to drink less has gone and you drink like you always do. Too much!

You know that you drink too much. You know that when you drink too much it can affect you the next day. You know that it does damage your body but yet, you still don’t moderate. Why?

My take on this, is because your brain is busy. Apparently, your conscious brain only holds one thought at a time and the likelihood of it thinking about ‘moderation’ at the right time is slim. There are too many other things to think about.

You could be thinking of your friends, the latest gossip, the bargirl, stress at work.

So if motivation doesn’t work well what does?

BJ Fogg has come up with a model of habit change which contains three elements. One of them is motivation and he’s says that motivation is the least important element. The other two are ability (to change) and triggers.

Take smoking for example

• Motivation – most smokers want to give up. They know that their habit is bad for them.
• Ability – most smokers give up when their ability to give up increases. This could be nicotine patches or a new mindset thanks to Alan Carr.
• Triggers – (to stop) strokes, serious illness, the warning on a cigarette package. (to smoke) fag break, coffee, reading the morning paper.

Triggers have worked where motivation hasn’t in the past. You need your ‘trigger’ to fire at the right place and the right time. What’s worked for me, has been placing 'two homemade triggers' by my wine bottles.

The first trigger

Reminds me that I’m only going to drink one.

It’s been surprisingly effective. Since putting it in place, I’ve only had one drink a night at home (half the time I don't drink).

It has also helped me build two useful ‘abilities’

1. Helps me to think before I drink. I think that I’m only going to have one. After that I’ll be on water again. I smell my drink more and make more of an effort to saviour it.

2. Stop at one. I only drink one per night because it’s easy to record and it’s also easier to stop after one than after two or three.

The second trigger

Reminds me to congratulate myself for only drinking one drink. This is a new habit and if it’s going to replace the old habit I need to enjoy it and celebrate it.

I added this one later as I noticed that I wasn’t always congratulating myself for stopping at one.

Celebrating 'good behaviour' is important as it’s going up against habits that have lasted twenty five years or more.


Triggers have consistently kept my mind on ‘moderation’. They helped me get off to a great start and have reminded me at the right time and place so that I can practice moderation. I had the motivation (the right intention) before but it was never consistent enough to really change my drinking habit.

Now, after five weeks, not only do I always think before I drink in my home but when I'm out this new behaviour is also present. I have said no to drinks and free ones at that. I’ve really got to a stage where I’ve thought about my habit quite deeply and I’m changing my views and associations on drinking which should have a lasting effect.

When you want to change a habit, be it drinking more moderately, stop smoking or eat better, use triggers to get you think and take action at the right time and place. Use triggers to keep you consistent. Once you're consistent, your new habit starts to take root. It starts to be become automatic.

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