Craig Groeschel tells a great story about his dog Sadie.
Sadie follows predictable routines based on visual cues.
We tend to do the same thing. Like Sadie, we are creatures of habit. We respond to simple cues.
And if we’re going to start healthy habits and stop hurtful ones,
We need to first make sure we understand how habits work.
What Is a Habit?
A habit is like autopilot or cruise control for the brain. The human brain seeks out ways to save energy. One of the ways it accomplishes this is through habits. Habits allow us to do things without engaging the brain to think about them or the need to make decisions.
A habit allows good or bad behavior to happen without your brain having to take charge. -Craig Groeschel
How Are Habits Born?
James Clear adds a fourth option:
- Reward 
A trigger that alerts your brain to go into autopilot by engaging the habit. 
The craving is the physical, mental, or emotional need the cue leads you to want to satisfy.
The response is the behavior you routinely fall into.
The reward is how the behavior makes you feel.
If you engage in the same loop–cue, craving, response, reward–enough times, the process will become automatic. -Craig Groeschel
Get Intentional About Your Cues
“A place can be the cue that initiates a habit loop.”
Example: When you get in bed, your body knows it is time to sleep.
“Certain times can trigger behaviors.”
Example: If you typically exercise early in the morning, you might feel inspired to go for a run or ride a bicycle.
At night, when everyone is asleep, you may tend to worry as you lie in bed.
“Time and place matter a lot. When we create a plan for establishing new habits and ending old ones, time and place will be essential.”
Here’s our strategy:
- We will create time and place triggers to start a good habit.
- We will remove time and place triggers to stop a bad habit.
“Moods can cue cravings and lead us into behaviors.”
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.
“Certain types of moments launch specific habit loops.”
“Wrong people can be cues that lead us in the wrong direction. The good news is that right people can trigger right behavior. Studies prove that the closer you get to someone, the more likely it is you’ll have the same habits.”
Working through the five major triggers/cues, list positives and negatives for each in your life right now. Remember, these are to discover consistent tendencies, not one-off incidents.
Places that cue a positive response:
Places that trigger a negative response:
Times that cue a positive response:
Times that trigger a negative response:
Moods that cue a positive response:
Moods that trigger a negative response:
Moments that cue a positive response:
Moments that trigger a negative response:
People that cue a positive response:
People that trigger a negative response:
A habit is basically behavioral autopilot born of the process of cue, craving, response, and reward.
Walk with the wise and become wise;
associate with fools and get in trouble.
-Proverbs 13:20 NLT
Groeschel, C. (2023). The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Zondervan.
Clear, J. M. (2018). Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. https://catalog.umj.ac.id/index.php?p=show_detail&id=62390