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Remove the Triggers


Last week, we discussed healthy habits, particularly focusing on cues. Today, I would like to discuss adjusting a trigger. We all have things that trigger us to engage in “unhealthy” behaviors. Jared sees a cookie platter, he eats one. When his wife doesn’t bake or hides what she did bake in a pan marked “raw, prepared chicken,” he doesn’t eat any cookies.

When we identify an action that leads to another action, we have identified the trigger. By removing or changing that trigger, we can change our behavior. This can be removing the triggering behavior or simply by making a teeny change to the triggering behavior that will enable us to not do the follow up behavior.


Let’s look at a few examples. If Kenny start playing games every time he picks up his cell

phone, and he doesn’t want to be playing games, the obvious triggering behavior would be picking up his phone. That may work, but it may not be practical. If he needs his phone for travel, work, or any other reason, he will need to pick it up, and then he may find himself playing and not attending to other important tasks. He could then look at a micro change, perhaps introduce a step- take note of the time before opening the game. Another change would be to make the game accessible by password, there is another step that forces Kenny to stop and think about what he is doing. This pause can trigger a conscious decision to play the game as opposed to the passive playing without awareness that had been happening. Another option for Kenny would be to remove the trigger. We already explored that by removing the phone, but another option would be removing the game. If the game is not there, he will not be able to play.


Take a moment now to think about something that you do automatically that you would like to stop doing? What are the triggers? What can you do to remove or change those triggers? Keep in mind that even a tiny change, can have a huge effect.


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