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  • Writer's pictureby Karen Pike

How to implement positive and sustainable habit change.

It’s January, the start of a new year of possibilities and a time when people are getting over the excesses of the festive period and looking to make improvements to their diets, fitness and health. Many people opt for dry or vegan January or join a gym.

However, a staggering 93% of these habits are not sustained past January! Because going to the gym is such an effort, and the stresses of life take over again and we resort back to our habits that provide comfort and alleviate the stress, such as returning to sugary snacks and drinking alcohol.

This is why I don’t advocate restrictive diets or strict exercise regimes to my clients. In order to make new habits stick, they need to be realistic and easy to implement. But you need to understand the psychology underpinning habits and then hack into that thought process in order to make successful long term changes.

All habits proceed through four stages in the same order: cue, craving, response, and reward. This four-step pattern is the backbone of every habit, and your brain runs through these steps in the same order each time.

How to implement habit change

The ‘four laws of behaviour change’ provide a simple set of rules for creating good habits and breaking bad ones. If you do not address these laws, creating good habits is nearly impossible. But when addressed correctly, you will find that creating good habits is effortless.

How to Create a Good Habit

The 1st law (Cue) - Make it obvious.

The 2nd law (Craving) - Make it attractive.

The 3rd law (Response) - Make it easy.

The 4th law (Reward) - Make it satisfying.

We can invert these laws to learn how to break a bad habit.

How to Break a Bad Habit

Inversion of the 1st law (Cue) - Make it invisible.

Inversion of the 2nd law (Craving) - Make it unattractive.

Inversion of the 3rd law (Response) - Make it difficult.

Inversion of the 4th law (Reward) - Make it unsatisfying.

Whenever you want to change your behaviour, you can simply ask yourself:

How can I make it obvious?

How can I make it attractive?

How can I make it easy?

How can I make it satisfying?

If you have ever wondered, “Why don’t I do what I say I’m going to do? Why don’t I lose the weight or stop smoking? Why do I say something is important but never seem to make time for it?” The answers to those questions can be found somewhere in these four laws. The key to creating good habits and breaking bad ones is to understand these fundamental laws and how to alter them to your specifications. Every goal is doomed to fail if it goes against the grain of human nature.

I offer coaching packages of 6 or 12 weeks in duration to help coach you through implementing sustainable habit changes. See ‘consultations’ for more information or book a FREE 20 minute discovery call with me today.

(Sources: Psychology Today and


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