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Micro Moves #6: Manipulate the Four Stages of Habit

Okay, you’ve had a couple days to ponder the Four Stages of Habit in the context of your own habits.

1. Cue  2. Craving  3. Response 4. Reward

Time →→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→

Now, time to manipulate the model for your own good. Here are the steps: 

  1. Define the habit you’d like to develop

Pinpoint the action you’d like to be taking more of, such as getting into bed at 9:03 pm, eating spinach at lunch, or telling your spouse you love them before leaving for the day.

  1. Identify or create a unique cue

Rewind to just before the action and pick an identifying object or stimulus that will remind you to take the action. Examples: A phone alarm at 8:37 which sets your nighttime shutdown routine in motion | the final *spit* of toothpaste reminds you to stuff a bag full of spinach for lunch today | the moment you touch your keys signals you to say “I love you.” 

  1. Give yourself a reward that really means dopamine

It sounds hokey, but something as small as a little fist pump or “yesss” can do the trick. Small celebrations truly work even if you feel like an idiot the first few times. Another very effective reward that releases dopamine, and we’re not just saying this because we sell them: ERND truffles. And that’s a reward that keeps rewarding. 


Use this knowledge wisely. You can be the master of your habits if you’re willing to break them down and exploit them with logic.


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