Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same 3–step pattern.
1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)
This pattern has been proven over and over again by behavioral psychology researchers.
What a Habit Looks Like When Broken Down
Before we get into each step, let’s use the 3 R’s to break down a typical habit. For example, waking up early…
Your alarm sounds (reminder). This is the reminder that initiates the behavior. The alarm acts as a trigger or cue to tell you to wake up. It is the prompt that starts the behavior.
You get out of bed (routine). This is the actual behavior. When your alarm sounds, you get out of bed.
You get up and are productive. (reward). This is the reward. The reward is the benefit gained from doing the behavior. You get up go to the gym, work on some creative work, plan your day, or just spend some quiet alone time. This is the reward for completing the habit.
If the reward is positive, then you’ll want to repeat the routine again the next time the reminder happens. Repeat the same action enough times and it becomes a habit. Every habit follows this basic 3–step structure.