Loops Create the Habits that Make Up Our Lives

Believe it or not, we develop habits just by living.  We live in “loops” or repetitive cycles that help to reinforce who we are.  We can unknowingly develop these cycles.  Loops create the habits that make up our lives.

Being aware of routine loops and how they are formed helps us to understand our habits.  We can use this information to be intentional. Learning what we need to do differently when we want to make changes can be beneficial.

Habit Loops

A loop is made up of three different stages. 

  • Trigger
  • Action
  • Reward

How do we create healthy habits or unhealthy habits?  The repetitive nature of the cycle helps to develop our routine.  Practicing them over and over is what makes them become permanent. The reward at the end of the loop reinforces the repetitive action. 

Loop Examples


  • Trigger- alarm goes off in the morning
  • Action-get out of bed, get dressed, go on a walk
  • Reward-feel great and energized for the day


  • Trigger-alarm goes off in the morning
  • Action-roll over, go back to sleep
  • Reward-a few extra minutes of sleep


  • Trigger-walk in the door after work
  • Action-go to the kitchen for a predetermined, healthy snack
  • Reward-feel in control of hunger, feel heathy


  • Trigger-walk in the door after work
  • Action-go to the kitchen for an alcoholic drink
  • Reward-a sense of reducing stress

How to Change Habits

Look at the examples above.  How would you change them to replicate the habits in your life? As you review your current loops, are there any that you want to change? 

A person I coach wanted to look at her eating snack loop.  When she came in the door hungry after work (trigger), all that was available were her kids’ snacks.  Her action was to eat the snacks. The reward was she ate something quick to satisfy her hunger. 

She wanted to eat healthier snacks. 

She changed her actions.  Her new action is to plan snacks so there are healthy choices available to her when she walks in the door. 

Planning helped her move from eating carbs in the cabinet to eating protein options in the refrigerator.  Two of her favorite protein choices are low fat plain Greek yogurt with berries, and hummus with cut veggies. 

Review your habits.  Think about the loops that repetition has created.  What changes do you want to make?  Loops create the habits that make up our lives.

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