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We are creatures of habit. For most of us, almost half of our daily activities are directly driven from ingrained routines. The longer we have been doing a specific triggered activity, the harder it is to change.

habit change sequence

That’s why it is so hard for humans to modify our behavior. We can have the best of intentions, but our deeply instilled habits get in the way. And it’s not as easy as doing something different for 21 days, or using intense willpower. Many habits are distinct ruts in our lives. We can try and climb out, but these ruts are deep, steep and slippery. Most times we fall back in.

Habits consist of three components…

  1. Cue or Trigger: The item that starts the habit cycle
  2. Routine: The action steps we take
  3. Reward: The reason we do the action

Researchers have found that it is easier to change an existing routine than to create a new habit. If this is the case, it makes sense to take a look at some of our common habits and see if we can make positive changes.

Let’s take a look at a common daily habit that many of us have, the Starbucks routine.

When driving or commuting to work, many of us stop off at a Starbucks or other coffee shop and pick up a beverage. Depending on what we order, this drink may have a lot of calories, causing weight gain over time.

So if we want to lose weight, we need to change or eliminate this habit. I’d like to introduce you to the concept of TRIM Goals, a quick way to change an existing habit with some cool perks. This simple goal setting technique consists of four parts…

  • T = Trigger
  • R= Routine
  • I = Insert
  • M = Mix

This is how it works. You simply take an existing trigger, change the routine associated with it, insert an additional action and mix everything together into a goal oriented habit.

Let’s look at how we might set this up. Our current habit consists of the following…

  • Trigger: Driving by Starbucks (We see the sign, triggering us to go in)
  • Routine: Order a high calorie latte (500 calories)
  • Reward: We enjoy a hot, sweet beverage on our way to work

Let’s convert this to a TRIM Goal.

  • Goal: Lose weight by reducing calories
  • Insert Goal: Meet new people and create new clients

Let’s TRIM out the Goal.

  • Trigger: Driving by Starbucks (We see the sign and go in)
  • Routine (Modified): We order a zero calorie green tea (500 calorie reduction)
  • Insert: While waiting in line we hand out small cards for a free eBook
  • Mix: New routine will cut calories and build our business

Results: Now instead of our daily ritual adding to our waistline, it now provides a tasty hot beverage and allows us to promote our business by handing out small cards for a free eBook to those people in line around us.

Let’s do the math… 500 calorie reduction x 7 days /week = 3500 calorie reduction or one pound lost/week. We hand out cards for a free eBook with a link to our website. Most people will check out the offer. Average 5 cards per day x 30 days /month and we can see that we have the potential of giving away 150 books and adding many new people to our mailing list. A simple to accomplish win-win.

TRIM goals can have multiple inserts and can be used with all sorts of existing habits. Here are some additional TRIM Inserts that make sense…

  • Trigger: Walk into your office. Insert: Do five push-ups
  • Trigger: Walk into the bathroom. Insert: Floss five teeth
  • Trigger: Open refrigerator. Insert: Do 25 jumping jacks

I think you get the idea. By taking an existing trigger, you can modify the existing routine, and then add another small action step for additional results. Mix well and reap the rewards.

Suggestions: Keep the inserts small and make them quick to do. Change bad habits into good ones.

Question: What kind of TRIM Goals make sense to you?

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