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Cues, Routines, and Rewards

Cues, Routines, and Rewards
February 26, 2019 Dan Raimondi

“I had a bad day at work. I feel like I deserve to eat fries instead of a salad. The fries are delicious and tasty.”

In a simple, boiled down manner, behavior works basically in these phases. It can be expanded to include others, but essentially this is what happens.

To change behavior, you need to change the cue, the routine, and the reward.

First, start with the cue. It can be visual – “if I see candy bars on the counter at 3:00 pm I know I’ll grab some because I’m lethargic.”

It can be mental, emotional, physical. Reflect back on your day and see if some habits you’re trying to change are cued by something.

Next is the routine. Putting barriers between you and your routine is helpful. Engineer your environment to both help you reinforce good habits and dissuade you from the ones you want to change. Don’t join a gym across town. Find one on your way back home from work, or build your own home gym.

Put fresh fruit in plain sight where you’re more likely to eat it. Hide the candy, don’t buy the ice cream, and, if you do, dish out your serving into a bowl.

Last is to change the reward. For doing more of the good habit, try simply taking positively to yourself. “I did well today. I walked for 10 minutes and didn’t eat the bag of candy.” Or try other rewards. Maybe it’s allowing yourself to have a serving of if cream if you’ve done well all week. Maybe you need to adjust your calories that day a little, but the reward is what cements this all in place.