Habit upon Habit

Calendar with colored blocks

Recently I came across a social media post with a great image having the months of the year written in a block font and broken into how many days in each month (see photo above). Immediately I knew I wanted to pull that into my personal resources to help master my habits. I am fully aware each day is an opportunity to build a habit upon habit.

As I began to fill in the days I began to call it my “patchwork of progress”. It hits so well upon the science of habit loops.

Habit Loops

James Clear, in Atomic Habits, and Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit, speak of habit loops. They describe a 3-part cycle of a habit loop. The cycle is started with a trigger or cue, which then causes a response or habit, resulting in a reward. The item I appreciate James Clear speaking more of is how craving is a part of the loop. The craving for the reward is what puts us in action and solidifies the loop into a habit. I like to think of craving as a catalyst fanning the flame of action.

Habit Loop - Cue, Response, Reward

My Habit Loop

Allow me to tell you how I took the coloring page into my own habit loop.

The cue for me are seeing the calendar sheet. It reminds me of my “why” of the desired habit and the end state I desire, but it also triggers a craving for me. I LOVE “done” and want to continue the streak of coloring in each day. So getting to color in a shape or checking off a block motivates me. But I know in order to be able to get the reward I must take action (response/habit). And then once I do, I get the reward of coloring in the daily block.

This cycle works well for me because I love to color but rarely take the time to do so. This means my reward is very desirable for me. And since I have this reward so closely coupled with a cue/craving it is very effective.

But How Many?

This year I picked three core habits I wanted to work on. I picked one for my heart, one for my mind, and one for my spirit.

I also give myself “partial credit”…just like I encourage my students to do. Allow me to explain.

One of my three is to step on my scale. I have a long hard history and battle with my scale. The numbers it displays sometimes seem to taunt me or yell at me causing me to want to avoid it and give up on my ultimate goal of good health.

I am working on changing its meaning as I work on my health. So every day I set my intention and awareness of a health-focused day by stepping on. Yes, I want a downward trend and am working on that, but more importantly, I step on…notate it…and color in a block. But on days I travel, I have no scale to stand on so I mentally set my intention. If I do that, upon my return I don’t fully color in the block for that day but I hashmark it. Grace…grace…grace.


Awareness is the first step to change.

I teach this to my students from their very first coaching session by providing a sheet of blocks to chart their wins. And I encourage them to give themselves credit in multiple ways. If they fully execute the habit we are working on, they are to “x” the block, like a “strike” in bowling. If they don’t execute on the habit but immediately think of it afterward…you know that “D’oh” moment…then I instruct them to give themselves a “/” in the block, like a “spare” in bowling. Awareness is the first step to change.

Little by Little

Bit by bit I see my habits changing and I like it. Little by little I see incredible changes as I work with teams!

So what two to three things will you and your team choose to work on? Dont’ even stress about two or three…pick ONE. Master that one habit/process and move to another.

Remember…habit upon habit…process upon process.

Contact Communicate Excellence for a systemized habit-upon-habit approach to the success of your team.

New Year Intentions. New Possibilities…But Are They Probable?

Turn new year intentions into a possibility.

There is something special about a new year with its new beginnings, new intentions, new possibilities, new calendars, and new planners. All seems fresh and the possibilities are endless.

But if it is possible, does it necessarily mean is it probable?

Our family enjoys going to CiCi’s Pizza. “Welcome to CiCi’s!”

On one particular instance, prominently displayed at the front door was a sign offering a $250 prize for anyone who could meet “The Challenge”. The rules included eating a 28-inch pizza and drinking a large soda, without ice, in 60 minutes. No standing, no throwing up.

Now is this possible? Yes—according to the sign, one person had succeeded.

Is this probable? No—so far only one had succeeded while over 40 people had accepted the challenge.

Possible vs Probable

So what is the difference between possible and probable?

The dictionary says that possible means, “capable of happening, existing, or being true without contradicting proven facts, laws, or circumstances—capable of occurring or being done”. Common words—”it could happen”.

The dictionary says that probable means, “likely to happen or to be true”. Common words—more than likely, “it will happen”

New Year Intentions

This is the time of the year when we make resolutions or add things to our “bucket list”. Each of these things falls into the category of possible or probable. Some things that determine where they fall include your expectations and effort.

When we walked into CiCi’s, we saw the challenge and determined that it was something we could possibly do, (we like pizza and how hard could it be?) — but probably would not do because we did not expect to win and were not willing to make the effort to win, and so far, only one had succeeded.

Your List – Your Choice

Think about the resolutions you have made for yourself and your team. Then categorize them into Possible and Probable. Finally, see how many you can transition from Possible (it could happen) to Probable (it will happen) by providing the correct expectation, effort, or resources.

Remember, it’s your list—it’s your choice. You can turn “possibility” into “probability” with the plan and effort it takes to meet your expectations.

And what would that look like? Success!

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