Free Coaching Exercise: Understanding My Habit Cycle

November 11, 2015 by Ken Nowack

This free exercise, and dozens of others, were created for our book, Clueless: Coaching People Who Just Don’t Get It. You can learn more about Clueless by visiting our site or you can buy it from today.

Purpose of Exercise: New habits are a function of three things–a “cue”, a “behavior” and a “reward.” Use this worksheet to identify habit triggers as a way of creating goals.

How to Administer and Use this Exercise to Facilitate Behavior Change: A recent meta-analysis study involving almost 200 studies indicated the power of using Habit Triggers (what psychologist call implementation intentions) on goal achievement in a variety of domains (e.g. interpersonal, environmental, health) as a way to succeed with goal implementations. Habit Triggers, as an approach to goal setting, appears to be very powerful and useful.

A Habit Trigger is simply a plan in which you link a situation or context with a response that will bring you closer to fulfilling your goal. To do this, all you have to do is reframe your goals as “if-then” or “when-then” statements. The “if “or “when” part is the situational cue; the “then” part is your planned response or behavior to that cue.

The “reward” is the “pay-off” for the behavior. Suppose someone has a goal to quit smoking. In this situation, a trigger might be feelings of stress; the behavior is smoking; and the reward may to be release stress. A way to utilize the habit trigger approach to quit smoking would be to replace the behavior (smoking) with another behavior (e.g. going for a walk). The reward which “releasing stress” may be achieved by the new behavior, and over time the new behavior will be associated with the cue. In doing so, this individual has formed a new habit of going for a walk when presented with feelings of stress.

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