The Key to Automating New Habits

Here’s how to take the momentum and motivation that the New Year brings and turn it into lasting habits and enduring change:

Automating consistency is the key to mastery.

This is something we talk about in the Recoding training at Artist Acceleration.

Rather than focusing on being consistent with a new habit… focus on making the consistency itself a non-negotiable way of life.

It’s not about practicing every day. It’s about setting everything up so that practice always happens, no matter what.

It’s not about creating or composing every day. It’s about setting everything up so that creation happens, no matter what.

What’s the one big domino you have to set up (and knock down) to make it inevitable that all of the other dominos (activities, habits, practices) occur?

Here’s one of mine:

I am a reader.

Always have been. It’s deeply embedded in my identity.

That means my life, in many respects, revolves around reading.

It’s not a nice-to-have habit.

It’s a must-have.

It’s more like water or food or oxygen.

It doesn’t matter what’s going on: I’m going to read during the day. And read deeply (I ain’t talking surface-level skimming through emails or even ebooks on my phone here).

I’m talking physical books, with my highlighters, note-taking implements… the works.

I read every morning after I drink my green juice (which happens right after I do my red light and breath-work, like clockwork).

And then I read with my wife after dinner (we recently finished Mody Dick and are currently reading Cloud Atlas).

I have bumpers for my day, and those bumpers are full of reading.

So I set everything up so that my consistent reading habit is protected.

And it’s the energy I devote to protecting and ensuring that consistency that counts.

It means that I never have to will myself to read. Or remember to do it. Or to motivate myself to do it, much less force myself to do it.

It’s nice enough that I jove doing it. But even if I didn’t love it… I would do it. Because I made it non-negotiable. I made it imperative. I made it a part of my identity.

You can jam the audio above for more context… but here’s a way to get this automating consistency strategy started:


  1. Decide on the high-leverage habit that you are devoting yourself to
  2. Identify everything that needs to be in place before and after the execution of this habit
  3. Commit to doing the habit daily so that the consistency can sink in
  4. Hang the new habit on a predictable, reliable cue (built upon a habit in your life that is already firmly-entrenched… such as your morning coffee. The key is to make sure it’s something that always happens. It doesn’t have to happen at the same time every day, but that can certainly help).
  5. As soon as you get the cue (the coffee is ready); you immediately dive head-long into the new habit you are putting in place before you experience the reward of the firmly-entrenched habit (in this case, the taste of coffee and the ensuing buzz from the caffeine)

That last step is critical.

If you can make it so that you don’t get to experience the neurophysiological reward your body and brain is deeply accustomed to until after the new habit has been acted out… you’ll learn to associate the proven and predictable reward with the new habit and not just the old routine.

This re-association process is powerful, and makes the formation of new habits drastically easier than attempting to form a new habit from scratch (even with the energy and momentum that can often come with the New Year).

May this serve you well, my friend. And if you’d like to go deeper (and haven’t already), feel free to check out the Recoding Method (a proven process for installing any habit and making it automatic).

Cheers to you and the New Year!

Joshua

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