Humans are hard-wired to develop habits. We tend to take the same routes every day on our commute, eat our meals around the same time, go to sleep at the same time… and we’re generally perfectly happy doing so.
But sometimes our habits don’t serve us. Sometimes they perpetuate a negative situation, keeping us stuck somewhere that we don’t want to be.
They can even be dangerous, threatening our health or safety or the health, or safety of those who rely on us.
On the flip side, the right habits can accelerate success. They can help us achieve our goals faster and more efficiently—and there’s more good news:
“What we call ‘habits’ are really just reward-motivation responses in the brain,’ explains performance coach Tony Robbins.
That means a habit is a set process that follows three-steps:
Sometimes the reward is positive (such as a drug addict experiencing a high), but just as often it’s negative—in the example above, feeling guilty after eating an unhealthy meal is a ‘reward’ because it reinforces a negative self-belief in the brain.
If you can break out of that cue-action-reward loop, you can start to break a habit you don’t want anymore—and conversely, triggering that loop can help you establish new (and hopefully better) habits.
If the three steps listed above are the set process that reinforces a habit, you can hack the process:
These steps will help you leverage the behavioural loop to start creating habits that actually help you live a happier, healthier life.
There are three steps—that Tony calls the three pillars of progress—that can help you narrow in on your goals and create the habits that will help you achieve them.
This step is necessary to get clarity. “The way to do this,” explains Tony, “is to get laser-focused on what you want.”
You won’t make real progress until you know exactly what you’re going for.
“Why do you want it?” asks Tony. “Make the reason so compelling that you are so excited to move forward, because what you focus on is what you move toward.”
It’s not just about setting a goal, it’s about really coming to terms with why that goal is important to you. When you’re clear on why it’s important, it will be much easier to fully commit to achieving it.
Once you’ve defined your target, it’s time to create your game plan. Think about something you’re really good at—odds are, you weren’t born a genius at it. Instead, you learnt it over years of training and practice.
That’s what this stage is about: developing a clear idea of how you are going to achieve your goals, and ensuring that you have the right tools to get you there.
Tony’s advice for mastering this step?
“Find a role model,” he says. “Look for someone who has mastered the area that you are striving to change.”
As Tony points out, learning from someone who’s already done it can save you a massive amount of time and energy.
“Think about it,” says Tony, “they know how to get from where you are to where you want to go. You’ve only got to bring the desire.”
You know what you want, and you’ve got a plan on how to get it. Now it’s time to take action!
If you’re having a hard time taking this final step, don’t worry—a lot of people encounter resistance at this point. If that’s happening for you, it’s time to take a look at your limiting beliefs and your dominant human needs. It sounds complex, but it’s really just a matter of figuring out what’s dictating your behaviour—the why in why do I do what I do?
Once you’ve sorted out what’s standing in your way, you can start building the habits to support you in getting to your goal.
As Tony likes to say, “You’re not lacking resources—you’re lacking resourcefulness.”
“Don’t buy into the lie that you don’t have time for something. You just need to re-strategise to understand how to build a habit.”
So go back over the three-step process to forming a habit above, and start setting yourself up for success.
Catalyse your progress over four days with Tony Robbins at Unleash the Power Within. Find out more here.