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Diagram of a Habit (Cue, Routine, Reward)

Desk and a chair - diagram of a habit with cue, routine, reward. Sitting too long in a desk chair all day

I’ve never crocheted before, but in a recent conversation with a friend, she mentioned how she likes to crochet while she is watching TV. Of course, I decided to google “how to crochet for beginners” (and found this comprehensive instruction set, in case you are interested ( The instructions provide a step-by-step guide: which hook to use, how to hold the hook, how to wrap the yarn, how to make the first loop, etc. It seems like a lot of steps to remember! But after you learn to crochet, habit takes over and, like my friend, you don’t need to think so much about all of the steps involved in crocheting. In other words, habits allow efficiency.

Think of habits that may not be serving you well. Overeating too often? Getting too many speeding tickets? Staying up late on the weekends? Procrastinating on a challenging project at work? Sitting at your desk for extended periods? Sometimes efficiency morphs into automatic behaviors that no longer serve you well.

In the book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg shares a framework for observing and understanding the behaviors that you want to change rather than a prescriptive process for change. Is it possible to change our habits? Duhigg suggests the framework of Cue, Routine, Reward.

What is the habit that you want to change? I’ll use my example of sitting for extended periods of time at my desk and explore how cue, routine, and routine work. What gets me up and out of my chair?

Cue: bodily sensation (hunger, thirst, restroom)

Routine: Stay seated for hours on end

Reward: Stay comfortable, stay in the zone (but stiff hips at end of the day)

What if I change the cue by setting a timer once an hour?

Cue: Timer goes off once an hour to remind me to move