Habits Require Rhythm

I used to struggle writing in my journal every day. It didn't matter how motivated I was, it didn't matter how much beneficial I knew it was. And worse, because I kept failing at such a simple task, I was getting discouraged.


But hey, I'm an engineer with a background in behavioral design. So I was confident I could solve the problem.


I made it easier (by purchasing a journal with easy daily prompts) helped. I got an accountability partner, which helped also helped for a short while. I created positive and negative incentives. I started small and scaled up. The list goes on, but the results were the same eventually I'd get out of rhythm and end up skipping weeks at a time.


So what changed?


Instead of focusing on the habit, I focused on creating rhythm. I designed my new habit to follow a "trigger". Instead of writing in my journal, all I did for the 1st week was open my journal every time I sat down to drink my coffee. That's it. That's how I started. A week later, I would be on autopilot and thinking about something else and then suddenly I'd have a cup of coffee and an open journal in front of me. I found it pretty easy to journal at that point.


So how can you create rhythms for your desired habit? First, since the goal is to make your habit automatic, start with a super miniature version of your new habit. Next, pick something in your daily schedule that you already do that working on this course would naturally follow. Mornings or evenings might work best, as they typically have the most established habits you can plan around. Ideally, the new trigger should have the same frequency, location, and theme as your intended habit.


Remember, focus on what will trigger the habit to create the space your habit needs to flourish.


If you want more help finding a trigger or are struggling to figure out what behaviors and habits you should focus on to have the most impact in your life, you can reach out to me at ryan.keeney@keenistic.com.

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