Positive Triggers: What They Are and How to Use Them to Build Better Habits

Positive Triggers: What They Are and How to Use Them to Build Better Habits lidiya k lets reach success

Have you ever heard of positive triggers? Here’s how I first uncovered one of mine:

I’ve been placing my glass of water right next to my laptop on my desk for a few weeks. Once it’s empty, I immediately go and get a new one.

The result is that, for the first time in my life, I drink 2 liters of water daily effortlessly, and without even thinking about it too much.

That’s no coincidence. It’s actually an example of one of the simplest, yet most powerful strategies you can use to build a good habit – relying on a positive trigger.

Most people find it hard to drink enough water. They forget about it, skip going to the kitchen (or wherever) to fill a new glass, or else.

But if you have it next to you, things become much more easier.

That’s just a small proof of the effect of positive triggers, what they are and how they can help us turn our behavior from a bad one to a successful one without any pressure or the need to use too much willpower.

What Are Positive Triggers?

The term comes from one of the best books on habits – “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Inside it he explains a concept called The Habit Loop.

It all starts with a behavior that triggers the habit, then we take the action itself, and in the end comes a reward (which is instant gratification when talking about bad habits).

Here’s how Noah Kagan (a successful entrepreneur and Internet marketer, founder of AppSumo) describes that:

“Fortunately whether I’m in a good mood or not I setup positive triggers to make myself take action or feel better.

It’s a handy trick I encourage you to use.

What I do is place things annoyingly in my way or completely out of my way to encourage a positive behavior. Over time these triggers develop into the power of habit which makes it all the more easy.

Here’s a sampling of the ones I currently do:

  • I put my running shoes in my hall way at night. FINE, I can’t get around them in the morning so I go running.
  • There are happy posters by my door so I try to smile as I leave my place. This is one of the best ways to get in a good mood and generate positive thinking.
  • I don’t bring a power cord with me to coffee shops so I am limited to how much time I can work and goof off less. (This is one of my tips & tricks for working alone.)
  • At the office I put some of my important items in a side room where I’m more productive so I tend to go work in that room more often.
  • Placing my scale at the end of my bed so I have to weigh myself each day.
  • My pull-up bar is on my closet door so I tend to do pull-ups each time I get dressed.”

So it all begins with the trigger. And as with everything else in life that includes our role, we’re in control. If we change the trigger, we can even turn bad old habits into successful ones.

Identifying Triggers to Remove Negative Ones

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Mindfulness is crucial here. We need to be fully aware when a certain behavior of ours (or even a certain time of the day, location or person – yes, these can also be triggers) leads to another negative one.

Only this way can we stop for a moment, see the bigger picture, and choose not to act. Or even better – to do the opposite, which will be the good habit.

Every smoker (at least from what I’ve seen and heard), for instance, loves having a cigarette with the morning cup of coffee. But not all of them are actually coffee drinkers. And if they eliminate the beverage, they can smoke less.

That’s just a quick example. But things like these matter as in the long term – when done daily – they can reward us with better health, make us more productive, help us fix a relationship, motivate us to get things done, and more.

Choosing The Right Trigger

Here’s what James Clear (an entrepreneur, author and expert in habit formation) says about habit triggers:

“No matter what trigger you choose for your new habit, there is one important thing to understand. The key is to choosing a successful trigger is to pick a trigger that is very specific and immediately actionable.

For example, let’s say you want to build a new habit of doing 10 pushups each day at lunch time. You might start by choosing a time-based trigger and saying something like, “During my lunch break each day, I’ll do 10 pushups.” This might work, but it’s not very specific. Do you do your pushups at the beginning of your lunch break? At the end? Any time?

Alternatively, you could create a trigger around a very specific preceding event that happens right around your lunch break. For example, “When I close my laptop to leave for lunch, I’ll do 10 pushups.” In this case, the very specific action of “closing the laptop” is a perfect trigger for what to do next (your 10 pushups). There is no mistaking when you should do the new habit.”

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Here are some examples of triggers in our daily life and how to easily use them to our advantage:

  1. Waking up.

That’s one of the best examples as everyone usually does the exact same routine ones they wake up.

Some people go brush their teeth or take a shower, others crawl to the kitchen to make coffee, or lie in bed for 5-15 more minutes checking their phone.

There are those, of course, who have a quick workout, meditate, write/read something, or include other great morning habits in their success ritual.

Whatever your first action is, waking up is your trigger. So realize that and let’s make the best of it.

Here’s what you can do to turn the act of leaving bed into one of your positive triggers:

  • put your alarm in the other corner of the room so that you can get up immediately (if you struggle with getting out of bed);
  • put a notebook and a pen beside your bed so you can write something first thing in the morning without using any willpower or even thinking about it (you can start your day with some creative work – write down things you’re grateful for, or things that will make today great so that you can set yourself up for a positive and successful day).
  1. Going to work.

That’s also something you do daily and can’t skip (unless you’re working from home, but the tips are still applicable), so why not include a few good habits.

You can:

  • put your gym shoes and clothes near the door to make sure you get them when you leave(and once you do that you’re much more likely to actually get yourself to the gym);
  • don’t drink coffee at home in order to drink it at the office, which can help you make new friends and dedicate a little more time daily to forming relationships with colleagues. What’s more, if you’re a coffee lover, this will motivate you to arrive at work a bit earlier and make a good impression.
  1. Having breakfast/lunch/dinner.

That’s kind of a ritual as each meal (even if it’s not at the same time every day) happens (most of the times), and you can start associating it with some positive activities.

For example:

  • wash the dishes right after you finish – that’s a great new habit you can develop that will make you more organized;
  • check email or social media only after meals (as otherwise we can do it all the time);
  • floss immediately after breakfast and/or dinner to improve your dental health;
  • drink a glass of water before each meal (to feel full and eat less);
  • do a few pushups before you sit on the table.

Such little actions that take 5 minutes or less turn daily meals into positive triggers.

  1. Watching TV.

If you’re going to do it anyways, why not do crunches, squats or other basic exercises while in front of the screen?

This way you can turn the bad habit into a healthy one.

Over time, you’ll be working out on autopilot without feeling like doing any kind of exercise.

  1. Coming back from work.

This can be the period of the day you dedicate to some quality time with the family.

  1. Going to bed.

You can place a book beside your bed and thus be more likely to grab it and read a few pages before you go to sleep. Also, that’s a much better way to get yourself to sleep, compared to using devices.

  1. The weekend.

Some people go out every weekend, leave the city, meet friends, or dedicate time to hobbies and side projects.

You can also try implementing a new behavior, like cleaning the house every Saturday morning, or writing in your diary each Sunday, assessing the week and saying what you want to accomplish the next one.

So that’s the power of positive triggers. Amazing, right?!

It’s funny how going to the gym feels like a great deal of effort while at home, but if I put my gym clothes in a visible place before I go out, there’s a bigger chance to actually get to the gym and have a productive workout.

Once I’m there, I also drink more water, become more confident, push harder when seeing people around me do the same, and feel accomplished in the end.

And all that can be a result of this little trigger.

So what are the biggest triggers in your life? How can you make them positive?

See also:

Hacking Habits: How to Make New Behaviors Last for Good
How to Trick Your Brain to Hold on to Positive Habit Changes

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How This Family Guy Makes $10,000/Month Online Teaching Others How to Make, Save and Invest Money

How This Family Guy Makes $10,000/Month Online Teaching Others How to Make, Save and Invest Money - Interview with R.J. Weiss from TheWaystoWealth.com

This is an interview-style post with R.J. Weiss from The Ways to Wealth.

Hey R.J. What’s your background and what do you do?

I blog about all things personal finance at The Ways to Wealth.

Before I went full-time into blogging, I spent ten years in the financial services industry. Specifically, helping families buy the right type of life insurance.

During my time with a full-time job, I’ve always had different side hustles going on. From freelance writing, Amazon FBA, conversion rate optimization, to website design — there were many projects I pursued outside of work.

How did you start your career in finance?

I got started in finance straight out of college working for my the family insurance business. As I love the financial planning side of things, I choose to specialize in life insurance planning. This led me down the path to obtaining the CFP® Certification.

What made you start blogging?

The Ways to Wealth, which I started in 2016, has been my 5th blog.

The others mostly fizzled out most due to a lack of interest. But, in 2009 I started a personal finance blog called GenYWealth.com (no longer around) that had some success.

The idea GenYwealth.com was to write about what I was learning about studying to take the CFP®. The blog was, by all means, a success. I was able to gain valuable knowledge, pass the CFP® exam, earn some extra money and build up a good community.

I then took this knowledge and started a business blog, which allowed the insurance agency I was working for to generate leads.

I started The Ways to Wealth because my passion is personal finance–from investing to travel hacking, I love the challenge of optimizing my finances.

How was The Ways to Wealth born?

I didn’t have much of a plan for starting The Ways to Wealth when I purchased the domain name.

I was actually thinking it would be a niche site, which was inspired by Pat Flynn’s niche site duel. Then, I came across the income reports of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and wisely changed direction to a more traditional blog.

This change came about 6-months after starting to blog.  I did a timeline of the site in one of my income reports.

What worked best when trying to grow the site?

I had a decent knowledge of SEO. So at first, I started growing the site with email outreach. One of the first posts I had about best investing books of all time, had about 15 links to it.

This was nice to start with but was quite slow to build up, as it can take a while to earn Google’s trust.

The big turning point came when I started to understand Pinterest. I spent a few frustrating weeks on the platform, then it finally started paying dividends.

I went from about 100 sessions a day to 1,000, which was huge for me at the time.

How did you get to 3 million monthly viewers on Pinterest?

the ways to wealth pinterest 3 million monthly views

I lay out my Pinterest strategy here. But at the core the idea is to:

1) Write high-quality content that Pinners want to click through, read, and share.

2) Pin to my own and high-quality group boards, with a keyword-rich description.

3) Continue to Pin my best pins across my own boards/group boards, ruthlessly eliminating Pins that don’t perform well.

One thing to keep in mind is impressions don’t mean much on Pinterest. What counts are clicks to your website. So, you want to design not for impressions but clicks.

What aspects of the online business are you outsourcing or automating and how?

The first thing I outsourced was Pinterest design. I’ll design about 30-40 pins a month, so this was big time saver for me.

Of course, it took some work to get going. At first, I hired 5 or so people on Fiverr. I found one decent designer but the work quality deteriorated over time.

I then went to Upwork and posted a job for a  graphic designer. I found a great team down in Argentina, who I’m very happy with.

I’m currently experimenting with working with a ghostwriter. A few of my latest posts have been transcribed from my recording, with the ghostwriter making sense of it all.

I can compile about 3 posts in 90 minutes, then take another 90 or so minutes to prepare them. Saving me around 3-4 hours per post this way.

What’s your main income stream and why do you think it works for you?

My main source of income for the blog is affiliate revenue. It works because the partners I do have are high-quality businesses, who deliver value and solve real problems. This makes it easy to naturally link to such a partner.

When did you start making more than $10K/month and what was the turning point?

My first month over $10K was in January of 2018. In December of 2017, income was around $3,000 and in July of 2017 around $500. So, it was definitely a jump.

What happened then in January?

First, personal finance is at its peak interest in January.

Second, I had multiple Pins go viral.

Third, in November I started driving traffic via Facebook to the site. So, in January I could take campaigns I’d been fine-tuning for a few weeks and scale them.

How do you balance work and family life?

I have a routine I stick to Monday through Friday.

When inside of my designated working hours, I work. When outside of these hours, I’m not.

This is a lot easier said than done. But the thing important for me is not to take work everywhere I go. This means I don’t have any apps on my phone that are work-related (email, analytics, etc..)

What are you 3 best finance tips for newbies?

  • Focus on your savings rate. How much you save is the most important decision you’ll make.
  • Small incremental improvements add up over time. My favorite example is increasing your savings rate 1% every quarter, means you’ll be saving 20% of your income in just 5 years.
  • Study happiness. Become a student on how to increase your level of happiness. The natural result is you’ll want less overtime, making the game of personal finance a lot easier to win.

What books, blogs or podcasts help you stay motivated along the way of growing an online business?

I read a fair amount to keep fresh ideas in my head.

My favorite podcast is The Tim Ferriss Show.

Two blogs I enjoy reading are:

Farnam Street
Barking up the Wrong Tree

And as far as books. I try to read one a week. A few books I would recommend to online entrepreneurs would be:

Deep Work by Cal Newport
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Pin this post if you enjoyed the interview.

Check out my interview with R.J. from TheWaystoWealth to see how he entered the finance niche, started making money blogging, began bringing traffic from Pinterest and monetizing it with affiliate marketing, and is now making $10,000/month from his online business. #blogger #interview #blogtraffic #incomeideas #income