3 Simple Ways to Make Your Good Habits Automatic

1. Create Habit Algorithms

Anytime you want to establish a new behavior, fill out this simple formula:

After I have [existing habit], I will [new habit].

For example: “After I have brushed my teeth in the morning, I will do 20 minutes of yoga.”

Hundreds of scientific studies show that people who plan this way are about 300 percent more likely to achieve their goals1.

And the reason it works so well is that it forces you to turn vague intentions into specific algorithms.

That way, you’ll remove the cognitive load of continually deciding when to do the behavior.

Instead, you simply execute the algorithm whenever the situation arises.

2. Build Behavior Chains

Whenever you want to create a routine with several habits, use this formula:

[Existing habit] → [New habit 1] → [New habit 2] → [New habit 3], etc.

That way, you’ll turn the individual habits into one single routine where each behavior acts as a trigger for the next2.

If you, for instance, want to create a morning routine, your behavior chain might look something like this:

“Brush teeth → 20 minutes of yoga → 10 minutes of meditation → Take a shower.”

If you just brush your teeth, which you are already very likely to do, that will initiate the rest of the morning routine.

3. Design Your Environment

We like to think that we do what we do because of who we are.

But in reality, we often do what we do because of where we are.

The triggers in your surroundings are constantly nudging you in different directions3.

For instance:

  • If you have cookies on your kitchen counter, you’re likely to eat them.
  • If you have credit cards in your wallet, you’re likely to spend money.
  • If you have games on your phone, you’re likely to play them.

In many ways, you shape your environment, and then your environment shapes you.

So, ensure that the triggers in your surroundings support your desired habits.

Footnotes

    1. Get Your Team to Do What It Says It’s Going to Do
    2. Habit Stacking by S.J. Scott
    3. Nudge by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein