Teaching Habits

Welcome back to Week Nine of this series where each week I distill down some key strategies and concepts you need to know to design courses that WORK.


#9 How to teach someone a new habit


If you're a coach, consultant, therapist, manager, parent, or basically a living, breathing human being, then you've probably tried to help someone establish a new habit at some point in your life (even if that someone was YOU!).


And, you've probably realized how freaking HARD this can be!


This week's post is all about how we can help learners acquire new habits (defined by Julie Dirksen of Design for How People Learn as "a behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary").


Most habit experts agree that there are 5 key elements to establishing a new habit:

  1. Identify a Trigger

  2. Connect to Motivation

  3. Provide Feedback

  4. Practice / Repeat

  5. Manage the Environment

All of these allow the action to become automatic. Until your learner performs the action almost without thinking about it, it is not a habit.


That's because if it isn't automatic, then it's requiring willpower to complete the action, and if you remember one of our earlier posts, willpower is a finite resource!



So how do you design a course or program that helps your client establish a new habit?


  • Invite learners to set an intention or declare their personal reason(s) why they want to change the behavior

  • Introduce the new habit and break it down into small steps

  • Guide learners into scheduling time to practice their new habits

  • Ask learners to identify the barriers that might come up to prevent them from continuing with the new habit

  • Design a way to track the new habit

  • Help learners "habit stack" by connecting the new action to an existing habit they have (like brushing their teeth or having a coffee first thing in the morning)

  • Invite learners to scan their environment to see what they can do to make the new habit obvious, attractive, and easy to access

  • Give learners an assignment to observe and write down possible triggers in their environment for a few days, then have them report back


Which of these ideas can you integrate in your next course or program? What questions do you have about course creation that you'd love me to address? Don't hesitate to reach out to me! I'm here to help. :)



Happy Course Creating!


Have a spectacular week folks!


Jess Paré

Founder & Chief Learning Alchemist


**Book a Course Clarity Call to get clear on whether an online course is right for you!


NOTE: Credit to Julie Dirksen of Design for How People Learn for the inspiration for this post.



About The Lab!

Thanks for joining me here in the "lab" as we explore what it takes to transform your wisdom and knowledge into programs, courses, and products you can share with your clients in physical reality. Just as the alchemists of old experimented with combining different elements to see what the outcome would be, I see myself as a bit of a mad scientist (with better hair!). By pouring the content swirling in your head into the beaker of my design process, we alchemize your content into something magical that you can share with your audience.



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