The Positive Power of the "Trigger"
by Robin Sacks
by Robin Sacks
If you have ever attended a live concert, you've experienced the power and excitement of a routine. You find your seat...there's chatter all around you...the lights dim and the crowd goes wild. The announcer's voice comes over the loudspeakers to welcome you and to give you some last-minute instructions and reminders. Then, the venue goes completely black. The sound from the crowd becomes deafening. Music suddenly blares through the speakers as the opening act starts the show. Once their set is done, the lights dim again and the crowd goes wild, anticipating the feature act to take the stage.
After one thing happens, it triggers what is going to happen next.
When we talk about 'triggers' in our everyday lives, it often refers to negative events. We talk about things "triggering" us or what "triggers" our stress or anxiety. We tend to focus a lot of our time and energy on those types of triggers, which can lead to making excuses or storytelling to ourselves about how this "always happens to me."
But positive triggers can help you to accomplish anything. They help you go from one thing to another seamlessly; you know what's coming next, just like in the concert example.
Routines rely on triggers. Positive reinforcement relies on triggers. Habits rely on triggers. Everything that you have ever accomplished in your life has relied on triggers.
So let's use our powers for good instead of evil! :)
The easiest way to do this is to use the concept of habit stacking. Habit stacking is simply the idea of adding a new habit to an already established habit. For example, if you want to practice better dental hygiene, you put the floss next to your toothbrush so that, when you brush your teeth every night, you also floss. If you make it easy to stack those two things, flossing will more quickly become a habit. By linking a new habit to one you already have, the new habit is much more likely to stick!
That's how you build a routine. The more positive routines you have, the better the chance that you accomplish what you're working towards, whether that's better health, finishing a work project, having a cleaner house or having more of a work/life balance.
It's also important to understand why you are creating these habits and routines. If you are doing them just to do them, you will not succeed - ever! However, if you remind yourself of the reason you are doing them, it will be easier to sustain them into real habits.
When you focus your time and attention on what triggers you in a positive way instead of what triggers you in a negative way, you build better habits; habits that move you towards your goals instead of pushing you away from them.
P.S. If you would like to dig deeper and learn more about habit stacking, James Clear's book, Atomic Habits, is a great place to start. (This is not an affiliate link, it's just a book I enjoyed and appreciate.)