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Psychological efficiency

I was asked by a contact on LinkedIn, "what's your best tip for establishing a new habit?"

He had already covered the Tiny Habit (or the value of associating with a trigger), so I didn’t vamp on that. Here’s Paul’s description of The Tiny Habit:

The Tiny Habits technique: by piggy-backing on our existing routines, we are using existing prompts to remind us of the new routine we want to build (such as “after I start making coffee, I will meditate for 3 minutes” rather than “I will meditate 3 minutes every morning before heading to work.”)

Here's my answer:

As soon as you become aware that:

  • you’ve not done the thing you wanted to do…
  • or you’ve just done the thing you didn’t want to do…

You need to stop and reverse.

So, for example, if you are trying to give up chocolate and you find chocolate in your mouth you need to spit it out. In this example, the awareness struck after the behaviour which feels useless but it’s not.

Awareness is curative.

LAs they say in Gestalt: “Awareness is curative”.

What you need to do is move the awareness to before the event. Seems impossible! It's not!

Immediately redressing the behaviour you want to change, despite the negative consequences, really works!

Another example… wanting to meditate in the morning… but let’s say you are in the shower and you realise you planned to meditate before showering. Yes, you guessed it,… you need to stop the shower, exit and meditate despite the fact that you might now be late, wet, flustered etc, etc.

Forming Habits is not about efficiency!

Initially, it's the opposite.

Forming a habit is inefficient.

Efficiency comes later.

As soon as you make the connection (in your brain) to the thing you wanted to do/not-do act on it! Yes, even when it comes ‘apparently’ too late. We are strengthening this connection in the brain and literally forming a new pathway and getting the habit going.


  1. You won’t need to spit out the metaphorical chocolate often, maybe just once even…
  2. Of course, it depends on how much you want to break (or create) the habit…
  3. In the grand scheme of things if it’s just not that important to you right now, just let it go, give yourself a break.
  4. But if it is important… Awareness is curative. Act immediately on the impulse to do the thing you want to do. Before you know it you’ll have a new pathway to that behaviour. You’ll have a new habit and you can forget all about it. Now that’s efficient!

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