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March 29, 2023

Action Triggers for Personal Development


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What are action triggers? How can they help you form new habits, manage your time and be more organised? Learn how you can create and use action triggers in this article.

Action trigger – the term itself seems unfamiliar and even daunting. (Are we talking about guns??) In this context, a trigger is simply an event or signal that sets off an action or a reaction. And according to psychologists, action triggers are very important in the creation of new habits. In turn, developing good new habits (or getting rid of old ones) is part and parcel of becoming better versions of ourselves. 

So let’s look at how something as simple as action triggers can help in our personal development. We will explore how they can be used to automate and streamline tasks and activities. This will help you to improve in areas such as knowledge, skills, and personal well-being. 

Using action triggers for personal development

One of the main ways to use action triggers for personal development is by setting reminders for activities related to your goals. For example, you can use your smartphone’s built-in calendar or an app to set reminders for reading an educational book. You can use it for practicing a new skill or working on a personal project. This helps to ensure that you allocate dedicated time for activities that will help you achieve your goals.

Self-reflection

You can even use action triggers for self-reflection. Regular self-reflection can be a powerful tool for personal development. It allows you to focus on your thoughts, feelings, and goals.

Regular self-reflection can be a powerful tool for personal development.
Self-reflection is a powerful tool for personal development.

Set up action triggers that remind you to take a few minutes each day for self-reflection. This will ensure that you make time for this activity.

Effective time management

Managing your time more efficiently is also important for personal development. Action triggers can help you do this by reminding you to take regular breaks during long periods of work or study, or by reminding you to stop working after a certain time each day. This helps to prevent burnout and make time for rest and leisure.

Developing a schedule that you stick to can help you gain better control over your goals and output every day.
Good time management helps to prevent burnout and make time for rest and leisure

Breaking bad habits

On the flip side, action triggers can help you to break bad habits. They can remind you to take alternative actions when you’re faced with the temptation to engage in a particularly bad habit. Try this. If you’re trying to quit smoking, set up triggers to take a walk or drink a glass of water when you get the urge to smoke. If you’re spending too much time on social media, set up app blockers on your social media apps.

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As you can see, action triggers can be used to hold yourself accountable for your personal development. For example, you can set up a trigger to remind you to check in with an accountability partner or coach or to review your progress on your goals periodically. This will help you to stay on track and continue to make progress.

Practical ways to implement action triggers

There are many ways you can use action triggers in your personal life, to help streamline tasks or processes, and to remind yourself to do important things. Here are some ideas: 

Setting reminders

This is the most basic but sometimes overlooked method. Most of us carry our mobile phones with us all day, every day. So use your phone’s built-in calendar or any number of organisation apps to set reminders for important tasks, such as paying bills, scheduling appointments, or taking medication. You can also set up action triggers to remind yourself to take breaks during long periods of work or study.

Automating home tasks

Use smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, to set up action triggers that automatically turn lights or appliances on and off, adjust the thermostat, or start a load of laundry at specific times or when certain conditions are met.

Managing finances

Use budgeting apps or personal finance software to set up action triggers that automatically transfer funds into savings accounts, retirement accounts, or children’s educational accounts, or pay bills when your account balance reaches a certain threshold.

Keeping track of your habits

Habit-tracking apps can be used to set up action triggers that remind you to do certain activities, such as exercising, meditating, or taking a walk, at specific times of the day.

Productivity boosts

With productivity apps or software, you can schedule certain actions on your computer or mobile device, such as sending an email, making a call, or opening a specific document or webpage, at a specific time or interval.

These are just a few examples of how you can use action triggers, but there are many other possibilities. The key is to identify the tasks or processes that you want to automate or streamline, and then to find the tools or methods that can help you do that.

Applying action triggers without devices

While apps are a popular way to use action triggers to create positive habits or set reminders, it is possible to use action triggers without a mobile phone or other digital devices. These are a few ways to use action triggers, device-free:

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Use a physical calendar

You can find plenty of these at bookstores. Whether it’s a calendar, planner, or journal, make use of them to schedule reminders for your tasks or habits. Mark the days you successfully complete the task with a checkmark or sticker. It’s quite satisfying to check things off your list!

Create visual cues

Set visual cues in your environment to remind you to perform your positive habits or tasks. For example, you can place a sticky note on your bathroom mirror to remind you to brush your teeth or a note on the fridge to remind you to eat.

Use alarms or timers

Yes, traditional alarm clocks or kitchen timers can still be found. Set an alarm to go off at the same time every day to remind you to take a break and do some stretching or rest your eyes. Set an alarm to limit your time watching television or streaming services.

Incorporate habits into your routine

You can try integrating new positive habits or tasks into your existing routines. For example, you can make it a habit to read for 10 minutes before going to bed or to do a quick workout right after you wake up.

Find an accountability partner

Find someone who can hold you accountable for your goals and behaviours. Tell them about your short- and long-term goals. Ask them to check in on you regularly to see how you’re progressing.

Keep a journal

Journaling can be a good way to monitor your progress if you write down your thoughts, goals, habits, ideas for improvement, and more. It helps you reflect on your progress and any challenges you face.

write down your thoughts, goals, habits, ideas for improvement
Write down your thoughts, goals, habits, and ideas for improvement

Over time, you will be able to note positive or negative patterns. It will show how far you’ve come since you started.

Use reminders around your house

Beyond placing sticky notes, you can use small signs or even objects around the house as reminders. For example, a potted plant you must water every day can double as a reminder to drink water. A picture or figurine of a dancer above your computer or near your TV can remind you to take breaks and stretch every hour.

Changing yourself for the better and creating positive habits take effort and consistency. There’s no one approach for everyone, so find what works for you and make adjustments as necessary. Remember. Positive habits and lasting change are built over time. So be patient with yourself, celebrate small wins, and don’t let setbacks discourage you.

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How action triggers can fail

While action triggers can be very useful, no method is foolproof. There are, unfortunately, a few ways in which they can fail:

Forgetting to set up action triggers

If you don’t set up the action triggers in the first place, you won’t get the desired result. You have to remember to create triggers for the things you want to automate and to check that they’re working as intended. (Essentially, this means setting a reminder for a reminder, which is pointless.)

Incorrectly setting up action triggers

If you set up the triggers incorrectly, they might not work as intended. This may be caused by keying in the wrong date or time, or not knowing how to use the functions of a fancy new app correctly. 

Inability to handle exceptional cases

Some action triggers are designed to work under specific conditions or set to repeat at specific times or dates. These can fail if unexpected situations occur. For example, if you set up smart home automation that turns on your lights every evening, this will turn out to be a waste of electricity when you go on vacation for a week and the lights remain on when no one’s home. 

Overreliance on action triggers

Some people may rely too much on action triggers and forget to check things manually. This might lead to missing important tasks or notifications. And sometimes, it might just be a good idea to remember certain dates (like birthdays or anniversaries) without the help of prompts.

Dependence on third-party services

Some triggers rely on third-party services, apps, or devices, and if these services are down or not working, the triggers can fail. Also, if there are security or data breaches, your personal information and schedules may be susceptible.

That said, an action trigger is still an effective tool for managing your time and getting organised. By being aware of these potential issues, you can take steps to minimise their impact and ensure that your action triggers work as intended.

Towards a better you

Action triggers can be a powerful tool for personal development. They can also be used in conjunction with other strategies and methods to help you stay on track to achieve your goals. One of those ways is to have an accountability partner or coach, as mentioned in our article. If you’d like to explore the services of a coach or someone to keep you accountable, we can help. Get in touch with us. 

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