Habits can be broken down into three parts:
1. Cue
2. Repetition
3. Reward

To start a new habit one must focus on #1 and #3.

An example is the tingly feeling in toothpaste – a century ago almost no one brushed there teeth and especially not daily. Two guys invented toothpaste but in order to get people to use it they first had to create a cue. It is natural that every person develops a film on the surface of their teeth over the course of a day. A century ago people did not think twice of the film. Then one day these two guys started advertising get the film off your teeth with toothpaste. Soon people started thinking of film as a bad thing and associating the tingly feeling from toothpaste as having clean teeth. The ironic thing is the tingly feeling had nothing to do with ones teeth being clean, people just needed to know that it is working. Similar to this is how shampoo foams up into bubbles. This foam is not necessary and one’s hair can be cleaned just as good without it. Another example is when a file is opening on a computer and the hourglass icon. We know the file is opening but as consumers we need to know and see something is working.

This brings us to “small wins”. Small wins is what people need to build a habit. An example is Michael Phelp’s daily exercise routine. Every day he does exactly the same warm ritual and exactly the same amount of time. His coach planned this on purpose (from eating the same breakfast to listening to same hip hop mix) because completion of each ritual within his routine is like a mini win. The mini wins build momentum for the big win.