Programming Habits
Learn how to manage yourself and form new healthy habits of your own volition in just three steps
Copyright: Ivan Samkov, Pexels
The Basic law of “sticking” to a habit
People who fail to make a new habit that they desire simply make one mistake in the beginning: they tend to do something difficult at once. But that's not right!

When a person, out of impatience, takes on a big task at once, it is 90% likely to give it up. Because new things are already difficult, and new and big things are doubly difficult. So, why complicate a task for yourself? It makes more sense to simplify it and act in stages.

To do this: you need to break down the desired habit into two or more small and simple ones. The simpler and more specific the habit, the faster it “sticks” to you.

Here's an example:

“Keeping the bedroom in perfect order every day.” — that's a little tricky. It's much more useful to divide this task into a few simple actions:
  • Make the bed every morning.
  • Put the clothes you take off immediately into the closet.
  • Every evening, pick up stray items from the bedroom and put them back in their places.
  • Every Saturday, wipe the dust off all surfaces.
  • And so on…
For example, you decide to start with the bed. Great! Start with it. Once you realize that this action has become automatic and has become a habit, take on the next one.
3 Stages Of Programming
I'll be honest: it's difficult to form new habits. Otherwise, we wouldn't be talking here right now, and all people would have become superheroes a long time ago. The trick is that the result of the new habits cannot be seen in the short run. The cumulative effect will manifest itself after 20–60 days of regular repetition. But the results are sure to come.

Remember Ostap Bender's phrase “only cats will be born soon”? Well, it's not so. All beautiful things take time to become part of life. You have to be patient and not hope that everything will happen on “one, two”. So don't give up if you don't see quick results. Everything will work out!

Any habit is formed in three steps:

  1. Create a trigger.
  2. Issue a reward
  3. Repeat for 20–60 days.
Let's break down the three stages of habit programming. Since we're talking about the habit of making your bed in the morning, let's continue with this example.
The first is to create a trigger
A trigger is something that will motivate you, stimulate you to take the right action. The best way to create a trigger is to tie a new habit to an existing habit that you've already made automatic. For example, brushing your teeth.

Tie the habits into a sequence, like cars on a train, so that one drags along the other. In the first step, fix a formula in your head: “After I brush my teeth, I immediately make my bed.” And do these two actions in conjunction until you don't hesitate to do them.

It's like the songs on your favorite playlist. As soon as one ends, you already know which song is going to play next. And the more often you listen to that playlist, the better you remember what's playing after.

Remember: doing a new (unaccustomed) action in conjunction with an old (familiar) one is many times easier than doing it separately!

So, there is a desired habit. There is a trigger to which it is easily binds to. You do it once, and it's kind of easy, right? On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, it's not yet a habit. In order for the action to become “automatic” and be done in automatic mode, you need to do the most important thing — fix it. So let's move on to the next step:
The second is to give out an award
Before I explain what that means, can you think of any bad habits you have? Surely, you can think of at least a few. Do you know why they're so hard to get rid of, even if you really want to?

Because they give you an immediate sense of satisfaction. Bingo! That's the key to programming. We smoke, eat fast food, or watch soap operas at night because it feels good. And giving up these habits is very difficult, even if you understand that it's bad for you.

The tricky thing about bad habits is that they're enjoyable right away, and we see the harm that comes with them much later.

With good habits, on the other hand, it's the other way around. Immediately from them, as a rule, there is nothing pleasant. But, after a while, you will experience one hundred percent pleasure from the result that these habits bring.

For example: getting addicted to eclairs is much easier than getting addicted to broccoli. All because of the pleasure of the dessert you will get right away. Letting such a habit after a month will bring with it a few extra pounds and rashes on the skin.

Becoming addicted to broccoli is more difficult because there will not be a momentary pleasure. However, after a month, you will experience real pleasure when you see how much slimmer your body is and how much more beautiful your skin is.

Based on this, it turns out that we can trick the brain.

That's the secret! To reinforce healthy habits, simply reward yourself for them. The reward does not have to be big. It can be very simple, but most importantly — instant! Let the hormone dopamine be produced and tell your brain that this action is great. This will be the first stage of the fixation.

Your updated formula would be, “After I brush my teeth, I make my bed, and then I have a delicious coffee and croissant.”

Mmmmm… Even I felt like making my virtual bed, so I could drink the delicious virtual coffee.
The third is to repeat for 20-60 days
Do you remember how in the last lesson I gave you the definition of a habit? The key word in that definition was “repetition”. Any action sooner or later becomes a habit if it is repeated regularly.

Therefore, the third step in programming a habit is REGULAR repetition. This is the only way to fix a new action and bring it to automatism.

Let me tell you right away that I don't believe in the magic of 21 days, about which so much has been written on the Internet. Yes, psychologists claim that an action turns into a stable skill after 21 days of regular repetition. But that number is more of an average. In reality, this period may be shorter or longer. But usually, it is a minimum of 20 days, a maximum of 60. It all depends on the person and on the difficulty of the action. Wouldn't it be right to think that all people are the same? Of course, it's not.
This week, we're going to practice programming habits that will help you eliminate clutter easily and without thinking.

Let's start with three example habits that are fairly easy to program. If any of them are already part of your life or not relevant, just replace them with another. That's where you'll need your chart that you had to fill out in the last assignment.

So, my examples:

Habit 1. Wipe the sink every morning after brushing your teeth. Habit 2. Putting things back in their place during the day. Habit 3. Leaving the kitchen sink clean every evening.

Here's what you need to do with each of the three habits:
  • Choose a trigger.
  • Come up with a reward.
  • Repeat them for 20–60 days (in fact, once the action becomes automatic, you'll just stop counting the days and everything will happen on its own)
Please do the task, even if it seems difficult. This is important, and it is a step towards the next lesson. Don't skip assignments. And don't change their order. This is the only way you can implement change in your life.

Have a great week,
Your Clea.
Your personal clean-up coach
Clea N.