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August 5, 2019

Atomic Habits Part 1 - Understanding Cues

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This week is going to be a series of lessons that all come from James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits”.  In the book, he shares how our habit loop is divided into four parts, and I want to address each segment of the habit loop individually so we can optimize the routines and behaviors in our lives!

So, let’s do it.  The 4 part process involves a cue, a craving, a response, and a reward.

Starting at the top with cues.  All habits require a cue to initiate the process. These cues are normal stimuli in your environment that prompt you to take conscious or subconscious actions.  Your environment is littered with cues that induce your current behaviors, and if you want to make a change, you need to optimize for your triggers because they begin the cascade toward action.

Clear’s proposal to adding positive habits is make cues obvious. It makes sense, it all needs to start from the top, and we can design our lives around that. If you want to workout in the morning, set out your workout clothes. If you want to read at night, leave a book on your pillow. Being intentional about the cues you are putting out can help guide your behavior to make the positive change you are hoping for. The important piece to this is that the cue presents itself in the right time and place where you are willing to go on to performing the behavior.

If you want to reduce how much you perform a certain behavior, the opposite (or as he calls it the inversion) applies. Make the cue invisible. If you want to go on social media less on your phone, hide the app and turn off notifications.  If you want to quit smoking, don’t hangout with smokers. The cue produces the craving that inspires the action, that elicits a reward, so controlling your cues is the first step to developing positive routines.

That’s part one: Optimizing for cues. Make them obvious.

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