Monday, June 4, 2012


Nigel Davies had a great post (as is almost always the case) on his Chess Improver Blog.  His recent post is about a OpEd piece in the New York Time entitled The Amygdala Made Me Do It.  This general topic of the science behind our decisions is very fascinating to me.  It has implications for pretty much everything in any one person's life - especially mine.

Having dabbled a bit with the concept of changing a habit (it's much more difficult to simply drop a habit; you must change it instead), I've found that it indeed works.  You just have to stay focused on it long enough.  It's worked for me before, but then I slipped back into 'bad' habits.  However, a few good habits have stuck.

Anyway - I was preparing a "productivity" minute for my job and I decided to discuss this simple formula for changing a habit.  Here it is below:

1. Identify your habit's routine

  • every habit has a basic pattern
  • routine, reward, cue
  • identify the components of your loop

2. Experiment with different rewards

  • rewards satisfy cravings
  • to figure out which cravings are driving a habit, change the reward and keep experimenting until you figure it out.
3. Isolate the cue

  • isolating the cue is vital
  • take note of 5 things when you 'crave' the bad routine/reward
    • location
    • time
    • emotional state
    • other people you're with
    • the immediately preceding action
4. Have a plan

  • now that you've figured out the loop (routine, reward, cue), you can shift the behavior with your plan (new habit)
  • when I see a CUE, I will do ROUTINE, in order to get a REWARD
5. Look for keystone habits

  • where do you begin to change your habits?
  • focus on keystone habits - those habits that have the power to start a chain reaction which shift other patterns in your life
  • ask yourself: which habits are most core to my self image?
More info at

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