The Habit Loop

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In Atomic Habits, James Clear tells us:

“If a behavior is insufficient in any of the four stages, it will not become a habit. Eliminate the cue and your habit will never start. Reduce the craving and you won’t experience enough motivation to act. Make the behavior difficult and you won’t be able to do it. And if the reward fails to satisfy your desire, then you’ll have no reason to do it again in the future. Without the first three steps, a behavior will not occur. Without all four, a behavior will not be repeated. In summary, the cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue. Together, these four steps form a neurological feedback loop—cue, craving, response, reward; cue, craving, response, reward—that ultimately allows you to create automatic habits. This cycle is known as the habit loop.”

James Clear expands upon the habit loop to bring us the 4 Laws of Behavior Change:

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.
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.

See additional illustrations, examples, and tables here.

The Habit Loop
Episode 23