Building Better Habits

Today we’re talking about habits.  But I want to take a different approach than most. I want to help you build better habits from the ground up. From your thoughts first.  

Because if you build habits from your thoughts, then it doesn’t matter what the circumstance is, your habits will be firm if your thoughts are firm.

So, we’re going to talk about finding the right cues and rewards for your habits. And then we’ll talk about establishing rock solid routines.


First, let’s chat a little bit about cues or triggers.

If you want to establish a habit, you need to get at the root of that habit.

If you take a walk once in awhile, what is the trigger that starts that walk for you?

What is a consistent cue or trigger that you can tie to that habit?

Christian Tips to Build Better Habits | The Renewed Mind Podcast

In my experience, there are four different types of cues that seem to work best:

The time of day. Example: taking a walk during your break at work, drinking a glass of water every hour at the top of the hour

The location. Example: cleaning out your car while waiting for the pump at the gas station

Other established habits. Example: flossing your teeth after brushing them

An emotion. We tend to make these habits unconsciously like eating when we feel sad, but you can use this to your advantage. Example: every time you feel frustrated, go kickboxing or take a walk outside

So, if you’re wanting to start a habit, see if it’s possible to link it to one of these four cues.  

Knowing these cues is also super important if you want to break bad habits. If you consistently stop by McDonalds for french fries after picking up the kids from school, and you realize that the time of day (or the habit of picking up your kids) leads to that bad habit, then you can fill up their water bottles on the way, or grab some grapes for them to snack on in the car after picking them up.

Just identifying the cue of your habits is huge to begin to change them.


Next, you should establish a reward system for your habits.

Now, if you’ve learned about habits at all then you know the value of a reward, but before you come up with a random reward, I want you to dig deeper and ask yourself questions like:

What craving is the bad habit satisfying? 

Or what reward would satisfy my taking action?

Christian Tips to Build Better Habits | The Renewed Mind Podcast

Once you know the reward you want to give yourself, make sure to test it out. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

This is why the great feeling people get after working out isn’t enough to satisfy everyone. For some people, that feeling satisfies what they’re craving and so it’s a natural reward for working out. 

For others, they are craving a different reward, so maybe allowing yourself to watch a particular TV show only when you’re on the treadmill is a better reward. 

Your reward may also be the lack of something. If every time you have a soda, you get a headache, then the reward for not drinking soda would be that you feel better.

Get creative with your rewards. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they have to be like little charms on a bracelet. 

If you are trying to stop having fancy coffees every morning on the way to work, then you may decide that your reward is: if you make coffee at home Monday through Thursday, then every Friday you get to have a coffee shop coffee.

If you want to get up earlier, have a reason for it.  If you wake up earlier to read you Bible and you keep falling asleep, think about other rewards you can do first to get you out of bed and then read your Bible afterwards. If you really enjoy being outdoors in the quiet morning, take a fifteen minute walk while listening to an audio Bible study like the ones in the Thrive Bible Study Vault.

You’ll want the reward of the quietness of the morning and then add your Bible reading to that reward.

So test out your reward. 

Did it work? Did it encourage you to follow through?

If not, don’t give up, just test out another reward system or another trigger until you find a system that works for you!


The last step is to add it to your routine.

And the key to this isn’t exciting, but it is necessary.  And it’s consistency.

This is when taking your thoughts captive makes a big impact.

Christian Tips to Build Better Habits | The Renewed Mind Podcast

Once you know the cues and the reward, start practicing this thought:

When I _____(cue), I will ______ (routine/action) because it provides me with _______(Reward). I know I can do this in God’s strength.

And remember, we get good at what we practice. So if we practice consistently thinking these types of thoughts, then it will guide us to act accordingly.

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Christian Tips to Build Better Habits | The Renewed Mind Podcast
Christian Tips to Build Better Habits | The Renewed Mind Podcast

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- Ashley Varner

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