The Morning Trigger
The most forgotten or ignored trick to picking up new habits is the trigger.
Meditation is one of my regular habits. I’ve been doing it for years. But even after all this time, I do it at very irregular times. My schedule is all over the place and sometimes I forget to meditate.
Some days I meditate in the morning and sometimes at night. Sometimes I do it at home and sometimes at the gym or bus. Sometimes I use an app, and sometimes I don’t.
I have built a habit, but I don’t have a routine. And that makes consistency very difficult.
I have just recently realized the reason why I struggle with consistency. It is because I don’t have a plan. I haven’t agreed with myself when and where I should meditate.
I’m missing a trigger.
A trigger is an event that will kick off that automatic urge to do a habit. […] Habits become automatic after we’ve created a bond between the trigger and the habit — the stronger the bond, the more ingrained the habit.
I have some triggers but since they don’t happen consistently, my meditation practice is not consistent either.
Some of my triggers are
- sitting down on the bus on my commute,
- a reminder from my phone,
- a notification that a friend has logged time on their meditation app,
- coming across the topic of meditation throughout my day
Given how different my triggers are, it’s easy to see why I miss some days. What I am missing is a regular event that I can automatically associate with meditating every day. I’m certain if the trigger is consistent, I can build a consistent behavior.
Pre-pandemic my main trigger was sitting on the bus on my commute. Today since I do work remotely some days, I miss that constant trigger. Weekends make for yet another different structure to my day and potential triggers.
The key to choosing a successful cue is to pick a trigger that is very specific and immediately actionable
It seems to me the one thing constant in all my days is getting in and out of bed. I already have a fairly well-tuned night routine so that leaves my morning I guess.
I guess that’s why morning routines are so popular. A morning routine can be adapted to any kind of day. You get out of bed on a work day, on a weekend, while on holiday, and on your birthday.
(Of course, if you are lucky to get out of bed.)
- If you are not regular with your habit pick a trigger to build a consistent routine
- If you can’t think of a good trigger, pick getting out of bed as your starting activity.