Habit Forming – Part 3
This is the third installment of forming good habits. So far, we’ve covered the first two parts of our habit forming equation, B=MAP. We started with Motivation and talked about how to reduce the action of a new habit down so that motivation isn’t an issue. Next, we talked about the ability to perform the new habit. We laid out the 5 questions that make up the Ability Chain. Those are designed to help you determine what factor, or factors, may be holding you back from your new habit.
So, in this episode, it is time to cover the “P.” In order to carry out a habit, you need a prompt. This is simply a reminder to do something. A prompt can be anything. You can use a post-it note stuck on your refrigerator to remind you to grab healthy options. Or, you could set a reminder on your phone to cook breakfast every morning.
The easiest kind of prompt is a current habit that is already part of your routine. That way, forming a new habit doesn’t require you to change very much in your life. If you want to form the habit of wiping off the counters in your kitchen each night, use washing the dishes as your prompt to clean your counters. You are already in the cleaning mood, so the new habit should flow easily into your current after dinner routine.
When you are deciding on a prompt for your new habit, be flexible. Sometimes, the first prompt you pick won’t work. So, try another. Keep going until you either find a prompt that works, or you realize that habit just isn’t going to take hold.
Putting It All Together
Because we have laid out the three elements of forming a habit, it is easy for you at this point to evaluate why you just can’t seem to form a new habit. First, make sure you have a purpose. The “Why” behind your new habit will help you get through those periods when motivation is weak. Next, you need to motivation to at least start the habit. Third is the ability to perform the habit. And finally, the prompt, or reminder, to do something. Because of this layout, we can easily see where the deficiency is coming from. If you have a good purpose, some basic motivation, and the ability, but the prompt isn’t working, then you know you need a new prompt.
Give the habit a good try. However, don’t forget what we talked about in our first installment of habit forming, if you try and try and try, and the habit isn’t happening, it might be time to move on.