How to develop a habit successfully

By | 18 mai 2017

You just finished your blitz game and while quickly analyzing with your opponent, you move another piece and press the clock.  Why is that?

It’s just… what you do: an automatic behavior done without thinking. Simply said, a habit.

In my previous article, I introduced to you the notion of habit by giving you an easy challenge in the end. Some of you may have noticed that I actually followed the step-by-step method of the habit loop.

I’ll first explain this process and then, I’ll give you some tips you can combine, in order to maximize your chances of cementing the routine in your daily schedule.

Habit loop

The habit loop consists of 3 components which will be the basis of any habit formation.

Firstly you need a cue, then a routine and finally a reward.

   1. Pick a trigger (cue)

For a habit to be automatic, it needs a trigger that will lead directly to the routine you want to put in place.

All habit triggers fall into one (or more) of these five categories.

  • Specific time of day: put a reminder in your phone or in your calendar. An alarm clock works as well.
  • Specific place: it doesn’t have to be outdoors, it can be the simple fact of entering your bedroom or arriving at your office for instance.
  • The presence of certain people: your partner who comes back home.
  • Specific emotion: feeling angry? Try taking a deep breath before responding.
  • Preceding behavior that’s been ritualized: check in your everyday life to see how you can create a chain of good habits.

   2. Define your routine

Which is the chess habit you would like to include in your everyday life? Write it down and keep it visible.

   3.Set up a reward

The word speaks for itself. It’s one of the best ways to keep your motivation intact. A reward that you associate with positive emotions works best here.

Habit consolidation

There is no magic formula to make a habit stick. According to a study[1], it can be a long road and will certainly require a lot of willpower at first. Thankfully, tips exist to help you make your journey easier.

  • Start small and be specific: Even 1 minute of training or 1 tactical exercise a day is sufficient to get you going. You’ll gradually work your way up.
  • Give it time and track your progress: The same study showed that it can take between 18 and 254 days to consolidate a habit. It also demonstrated that you can skip one or two sessions without compromising the whole process. You have to be patient and keep track of each of your successes. It can be useful to display them on a big white board, which you pass by every day.
  • Identify obstacles: Spend some time finding out what could actually hold you back from achieving your goal. For instance, if you’re too tired at a certain time, don’t pursue a habit which will require too much energy.
  • Use visual reminders: Post-its can be extremely efficient when they are put in places you can’t avoid (fridge, kitchen table, entry door…)
  • Boost your confidence: here are three phrases that I encourage you to read every day to boost your confidence during the advancement.
    • Instead of forcing yourself to train every day, become someone who never misses a chance to improve.
    • Instead of competing, become the player with strong work ethic.
    • Instead of comparing yourself to other players, be a person who opts for never-ending improvement.

Follow the plan

Developing a habit will require you to conscientiously follow the habit loop, while engraining the progression thanks to the tips I gave you. Just like in a chess game, following the right plan can lead you to victory.

Struggling with some parts of the method? Feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you out.



[1] To be precise, scientists say in this study it takes in average 66 days to make a habit stick.