My life changed the day I realised my time is running out.

In this weeks blog I want to write about the CUTE 5 Step habit loop we use to help managers build successful habits. But today I don’t want to talk about leadership, management or NWOW habits. I want to show how I used the habit loop to build my skate habit. Want to start running, do yoga or learn how to skateboard at the age of 42? Then use the loop and turn the 88% new habit failure rate upside down!

My Bucket list

I started having a midlife crisis about three years ago. Before my 40th birthday I started thinking a lot about time. Probably because I realised one of my most precious resources seemed to be running out. When you are twenty and you double your age, you are 40 (just like I was 3 years ago) and that’s cool. If I double my age now it adds up to 86 and I am not quite sure I like that. And those first 40 years passed in a (insert expletive) glimpse. Basically I had to find a way to gain more time and start scratching things off my bucket list. And one of the last things I added to that list was skateboarding. Why? Well about a year ago I saw the video below and for some odd reason or other I decided that I wanted to be able to cruise down a street like that too. After watching the video about 50 times or more, I jumped in the car and went to buy my first skateboard.

Next step, turn skateboarding into a habit. But what’s the best way to build a new habit, considering that 88% of all new habit attempts fail? I decided to use the CUTE 5-Step Habit Loop to help me build my new habit!

Basically the 5 step habit loop works like this. You need to define 5 things.

Why? (Motor) I want…

I want to skateboard every day, because it makes me feel alive. Another reason I want to skateboard is actually surfing. Starting your day catching waves whilst the sun is rising is magical, but you can’t surf when there aren’t any waves. Skating solves that problem. No waves… Skate! Basically now I can start almost every day of the year with one of my passions. An extra skating bonus is that it’s actually also really good to improve your surfing, because the movements are similar.

When? (Trigger) After I…

One of the principal reasons new habit attempts fail is that people don’t exactly specify when they are going to do their new habit! Couple your new habit to an already existing one can easily help you build that new habit.

After I wake up at 5:58 and have breakfast in under 5 minutes (I will go outside and “pull an ollie”).

What? (Routine) I will… step 1

Step 1: After I have breakfast I will go outside and put on all my skate protection.

Step 2: I will skate down the street several times or “pull a couple of ollies”.

Step 3: If I feel up for it I will go to the skatepark.

How+? (Reinforcement) I feel…

The How+ question normally starts with a phrase that starts with:

I feel…

  • If feel full of energy after skating.
  • Like I have improved at something that day. I see progress and that makes me feel happy.
  • I will try to go skating with a friend in the mornings because it’s more pleasant to have somebody around to share the fun.
  • And last but not least I confess that I feel good when I post a picture or video on instagram to show my friends that at the age of 43 I am still enjoying life the fullest. (Extra note: funny to see that the only people that skate before 8am are over 40…)

What if? (Environment) If… Then…

In the last part of the Habit Loop you have to think about the what ifs.

  • If it rains I will do an ollie or another trick I am working on inside.
  • I will have some classes in the beginning to help me stick to the plan and learn the basics.
  • When I go surfing instead of skating, then I will do a couple of ollies at the beach.
  • I will always have a skateboard in the car and another in the office.
  • When I am injured I will watch skate videos to keep me motivated and place my skateboard where I can see it.
  • If I travel abroad for work or vacation then my skateboard comes along.
  • In case I pressed the snooze button and fell asleep again, then I will just do an ollie after breakfast or during a break at the office.
  • If I have pain, then I have to accept the pain and understand it’s part of skating.

One year later

Was I successful in building those two new habits? Looking back on the last year, I woke up in average 1,5 hours earlier than the year before. In one year I gained exactly 32850 minutes and used those to learn something new and enjoy life. The kids at the skatepark probably still think I am a kook, but I am happy to see the results of those 547 hours of falling and getting back up.

Extra note! Of course I don’t do an ollie anymore in the morning before I head off the park. I get up an go skating straight away. But remember, if you want to make your next habit successful, make it small enough! It’s easier to do an ollie a day than go skating 2 hours a day. So my most important tip of this all: start small.

What would you with your extra 547 hours? Let me know in the comment section below! What would you like to learn?

Good luck with those new habits!

Haroun (Online manager CUTESolutions)

Subscribe below and unlock our CUTE session dedicated to habit building. In this 90 minute workshop we explain the habit loop in detail  and you will also receive a couple of laughs as an extra bonus.

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