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The Power of Habits

This process within our brains is a three-step loop.

1. The Cue
A trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
2. The Routine
Which can be either physical, mental, or emotional.
3. The Reward
Which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

Over time, this loop-cue, routine, reward – becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges. Eventually a habit is born.

The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards.

  • This explains why it’s so hard to create exercise habits., for instance or change what we eat. Once we develop a routine of sitting on the couch, rather than running, or snacking whenever we pass a doughnut box, those patterns always remain inside our heads.

By the same rule, though, if we learn to create new neurological routines that overpower those behaviors – if we take control of the habit loop-we then can force those bad tendencies into the background.


Human psychology tells us that it is grounded in two basic rules.

1. Find a simple and obvious cue.

2. Clearly define the rewards.

Studies of people who have successfully started new exercise routines, for instance, show they are more likely to stick with a workout plan if they choose a specific cue, such as exercising as soon as they get home from work. Have a clear reward such as a snack or evening of guilt-free television.

We do know that for habits to permanently change, people must believe that change is feasible.

  • Develop a clear list of Why’s.
  • Why do I want to do this?

The evidence is clear: If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group.

The Framework for Change

Step One: Identify the Routine

Step Two: Experiment with Rewards

Step Three: Isolate the Cue (Trigger)

Step Four: Have a Plan

“Habit my friend, is practice long pursued, that at last becomes the man himself.”
– Evenus

Action Exercises
1. Identify a Habit that you want to change or replace, and write it down..
2. Write down as many why’s as you can for wanting to change or replace this habit.
3. Visual how you would feel if you mastered this Good Habit.
4. Work on developing an Internal Locus of Control. You are in control, which will lead to greater success, and happiness.
5. Repeat daily I am responsible!
6. Develop a strong belief for change.”Whatever you believe, with conviction, becomes your reality.”

“As a man thinketh, in his heart (his beliefs), so is he.”

– James Allen

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