Navigation : Original Essay : Amateur : Expert : Habitue : Addict

An amateur is a person who has an automatic, internal trigger to do a pleasurable behavior requiring relatively little willpower. Amateur habits include many of the behaviors most people do regularly as part of their daily routines. Brushing your teeth, going on a morning walk, or taking your vitamins are just some of the habits that can fill a morning. These behaviors require little willpower or self-control to create daily rituals.

Creation of new amateur behaviors follows a familiar pattern. First, an external trigger reminds the person of the desired behavior. The external trigger may include an alarm, reminder, or can even be an object, like strategically placed dental floss.  Then, if the person has sufficient motivation and the ability to carry out the behavior, he does so. The behavior is repeated multiple times until the external trigger is no longer needed and a new habit is formed.
Methods that work to create an amateur behavior change include:

What methods are good for:

  • Creating small, easy to do healthful routines like exercising regularly.
  • Building a small degree of skill like using a new web site or mobile app.
  • Behaviors, which require decisions to be made once or twice a day, like flossing your teeth before bed.

What doesn’t work:

  • Strict goals
  • Competition
  • Guilt or punishment

Proponents:

NOTE: I’m experimenting with crowd sourcing more methods for behavior change. Please add other effective techniques below: