Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits.
How in shape or out of shape you are? Is a result of your habits.
How happy or unhappy you are? Is a result of your habits.
How successful or unsuccessful you are? Is a result of your habits.
What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, and the results you currently see in every area of your life.
But what if you want to form a new habit, like a new fitness routine? How would you go about it?
Turns out, there’s a helpful framework that can make it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve, not only your health, but also your work, and your life in general.
Let’s talk about that framework now…
The 3 Steps of Installing a New Habit of Fitness
Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same 3–step pattern.
Duhigg’s book refers to the three steps of the “Habit Loop” as Cue, Routine, Reward.
BJ Fogg uses the word trigger instead of cue.
Regardless, don’t get hung up on the terminology. It’s more important to realize that there’s a lot of science behind the process of habit formation, and so we can be relatively confident that your habits follow the same cycle, whatever you choose to call them.
I like to use the acronym “C.A.R” because it’s easy to remember.
- It stands for Cue, Action, and Reward. These are the 3-steps to installing a new habit.
You first create a Cue or a reminder of the habit you want to install, that is easy and fool proof.
Like an alarm on your phone, or a sticky note reminder on your mirror, or an accountability partner who calls and reminds you until it’s a habit, and you remember on your own.
Second, actually take the action and don’t allow yourself to delay or get distracted. Think about the Nike phrase, “Just do it”.
Lastly reap the reward.
If it’s a new fitness routine you will feel more energized, and happy, and alive as long as you choose something fun that you enjoy doing.
If you choose something that you don’t look forward to you will be using will power, but I guarantee you it won’t last long term.
You want to choose a fitness routine that is fun and sustainable long term.
What a Habit Looks Like When Broken Down
Let’s use the 3 steps to break down installing a typical habit. For example, starting a new morning walking practice.
You set your alarm 20 minutes earlier. You wake up in the morning, get out of bed and notice your walking shoes, laid out just down below your feet.
You go to the bathroom, come back, put on the shoes and immediately head out the door for a quick 15-20-minute walk. (“Just do it”.)
You return home feeling more awake, energized, alive, and vibrant.
If the reward is positive, then you’ll want to repeat the routine again the next time the reminder happens. Repeat the same action enough times and it becomes a habit. Typically, it takes 30-45 days to install a new habit. Every habit follows this basic 3–step structure.
Now it’s your turn.
Please share with me a habit you installed and if you have any helpful tips of what worked for you.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.