The Chain Reaction Habit Forming Technique

Domino Effect

Here’s a little something that I like to do to help me pick up habits that I want to incorporate into my daily routine, but find trouble doing so at the outset:

  1. Pick a habit that you want to incorporate, but have been struggling to stick with.
  2. Pick a habit that you already have ingrained in your day to day.
  3. Tie the two together.


It helps to make a reminder for when you are acclimating yourself to this new habit. A sticky note, an electronic reminder, whatever works best for your situation is what works.  Sooner or later though, you won’t need it.

Example 1:

Squeeeeeeze me

Squeeeeeeze me

I want to do wrist exercises every day, but I keep forgetting! Or I start doing them for a couple days, but then something crazy happens, distracts me, and now it’s out of the picture.

So all I gotta do is tie this habit to something previously existing in my daily routine, and BANG! Insta-habit.

At work, I have outlook set up so that I have to manually check my email for new messages. (I’ve also got it this way on my iPhone, for sanity reasons.) I check my mail on average 5-6 times a day.

Wrist workouts + Mail Check = Insta-habit

In the above example I used a sticky note and wrote “20 wrist exercises every time you check email”. It’s now a part of my daily routine.

Example 2:

I have a strong dislike for facebook. Okay, let me rephrase that. I have a strong dislike for how people use facebook. I spend very little time on there the way it is, but I always seem to be drawn back in, in hopes of finding something useful for my life. It rarely happens.

Anyway, there is a cheat code to make it useful! Anytime I log in to facebook, I have to do 20 push-ups. Any time I post something to facebook – 50 push-ups.

Facebook + Push-ups = Insta-habit

For one, this keeps me in shape – which is a plus.  Secondly, it keeps me from wasting time on facebook, because sometimes I just won’t want to do push-ups. And thirdly, it enforces me to only post meaningful things to facebook (which if everyone did in the first place, it would make it so much better.)

So two things I’ve got going on here:

  1. You’ll notice that what I’m creating is a sort of Pavlovian response, which in the beginning requires conscious effort, however, over time it becomes a naturally occurring habit.
  2. You’ll also notice that I’ve got two fitness based examples above, which work in lock step with the “Grease the Groove” concept. This is great for fitness! Use it with a pull up bar in your door frame, nearby dumbbell, sit up ball, whatever.
  3. This works just as well to balance out bad habits as it does to reinforce good habits.

Give it a try. Tell me what you think!


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