Study Habit Series: The Habit Formation Cycle
Over the past few weeks, we’ve started a Study Habit Series to share our tips and tricks for starting and maintaining healthy study habits. No matter where you are on your habit-forming journey, the most important aspect of building any habit is finding a routine that works for you. While individual motivations and outcomes vary, you can make your habits stick with a simple habit formation cycle. In this post, we’re sharing the cycle of reminder-routine-reward that keeps you on track to accomplish big goals with simple actions.
To begin practicing your habit, you first need a reminder. The reminder is the cue or trigger that launches the habit action. In past posts, we’ve discussed tying your habits to other actions, like brushing your teeth or setting your alarm, so that you begin to automatically incorporate your habit into your pre-existing routine. For example, if you are trying to practice your vocabulary for Italian class for ten minutes every morning, you could remind yourself by pairing this habit with drinking your morning coffee. The coffee drinking is the reminder and the Italian practice is your habit. Once you regularly associate Italian practice with coffee drinking, you won’t have to put much thought into your new habit.
The routine is the simple act of performing the habit. In our case, the routine is practicing Italian for ten minutes every morning. If this is tied to your reminder, as mentioned above, it becomes a lot easier to complete. You won’t have to find time to fit it in your busy day, you’ll just do it each morning while you drink your coffee. Repeat this routine each morning, or as often as you can, following our “never skip it twice” rule, to ensure effective habit formation.
The reward to your routine can be an intrinsic or extrinsic reward. An extrinsic reward might be something like a study break, a walk around the neighborhood, or a yummy breakfast after you complete your routine. An intrinsic reward is the benefit that you acquire for the mere sake of completing your routine, such as the development of your Italian skills or the chance to speak Italian with your classmates. Find a reward that feels positive and sustainable. And feel free to switch your reward up over time! As long as you’re feeling the benefits of the reward and the habit itself, you’re doing great.
The reminder-routine-reward cycle is pretty effective when it comes to forming long-lasting and sustainable habits. Remember that everyone’s motivations, habits, and rewards differ, but the important thing is finding something that works for you. It might take some trial and error at first, and you’ll definitely make mistakes and fall off-track at times, but know that it’s never too late to get back on track!