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.
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.
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.