Kick ass using Positive Triggers

January 30, 2013 - Get free updates of new posts here

Here are some of my not so favorite quotes I’ve said recently:

“The pills are on my table, guess I’ll take them in the morning. Gulp”

“My running shoes and are in the middle of my hall-way. Bleh”

“Argh. I have to go to the side room to work.”

“Damn that happy picture of me chest bumping Johnross I see as I leave my place.”

Fortunately whether I’m in a good mood or not I setup positive triggers to make myself take action or feel better. 

It’s a handy trick I encourage you to use.

What I do is place things annoyingly in my way or completely out of my way to encourage a positive behavior. Over time these triggers develop into the power of habit which makes it all the more easy.

Here’s a sampling of the ones I currently do:

  1. I put my running shoes in my hall way at night. FINE, I can’t get around them in the morning so I go running.
  2. There are happy posters by my door so I try to smile as I leave my place. This is one of the best ways to get in a good mood and generate positive thinking.
  3. I don’t bring a power cord with me to coffee shops so I am limited to how much time I can work and goof off less. (This is one of my tips & tricks for working alone.)
  4. At the office I put some of my important items in a side room where I’m more productive so I tend to go work in that room more often.
  5. Placing my scale at the end of my bed so I have to weigh myself each day.
  6. My pull-up bar is on my closet door so I tend to do pull-ups each time I get dressed.

Why does any of this matter?

It’s easy to skip over things but if you set them up to automatically to reduce your friction from doing it, you are WAY more likely to get the results you want. Make it easy  to say, “Yes” to yourself!

What’s 1 trigger you can setup today for yourself? Leave a comment then watch this video about Starting and KILLING habits on YouTube.

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62 responses to “Kick ass using Positive Triggers

  1. Jacques de Villiers Reply

    We’re creatures of habit.

    So, we may as well get good habits. By doing these small, yet important things, Noah, you are making it easier for your brain to go for it.

    As you probably already know, the brain doesn’t like to be taxed.

    If you make it easy for your brain, which is the most energy hungry organ in the body, then you are more likely to get your stated task done.

    You’ve already read David Rocks ‘Your Brain At Work’, Noah so you know how it works. A great read for anyone who wants insight on how to get the best out of people.

    Another book that ties in with Noah’s topic (and should be your 19th must read book, Noah) is Switch – How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.

    Be awesome!

    South Africa

  2. Karelys Beltran Reply

    If I want to impress someone like my husband or boss or friend I picture them being so happy and genuinely feeling like their life is happier or better because I am here.

    So then I behave like what would get that result.

  3. Elliom Neave Reply

    Great read. Going to give some of these a go on top of my current methods.

    One I like to do is write down what I need to have done for the day/week/month and stick it on a wall.

    It’s easy to type something in Notepad to be done, but you’ll probably end up closing it.

    If something is in your own handwriting you tend to feel more guilty about NOT doing it and then creates, at first, the illusion of discipline and then becomes actual discipline.

  4. Alexandre Nômade Digital Reply

    Habit creation is subject that I love study.

    Those ideas are not direct habit creation, but as you said, part ofit: turning the things easier to to and hard to miss.
    As simple as that.

    I try to think about compound interest about habits: learn that little tiny heathy habit today and do it for 10 year. Will make a HUGE diference.

    But we usually overlook the small things and shoot only for thebig things. And more than often don’t accomplish it. Downward spiral.

    Small, but constant.

    Awesome post, Noah.
    You’re the guy.

    (I need to get some momentum [a.k.a., passive web income] to allow me to focus more on my whole life!)

  5. Tracey Pedersen Reply

    Oh it turns out I’ve been doing this for years without even thinking about what it actually means. I have a skill of turning off the alarm or setting it to snooze over and over in the morning. Many years ago I decided to place my alarm clock or phone on the other side of the room so I had to get up to turn it off in the morning. No more setting it to snooze. Once I’m out of bed I’m on the move! Thanks for pointing out all the other places I can use this technique!

  6. Christine Reply

    I bought a super cool lunch box so I feel more compelled to take a healthy lunch to work everyday. Doesn’t have a thermos with it like my kickin’ Strawberry Shortcake one did when I was in 3rd grade, but it still makes everyone kind of jealous in the break room. 😀

  7. Rebekah Kennelly Reply

    I’ve been doing this for the last couple weeks to help with my workout program – the coffee pot kicks on 10 minutes before my alarm – my shoes, headphones and armband sit right next to the door – and lay out my workout clothes before I go to bed. It’s hard to skip working out in the morning when I have everything laid out and prepared.

  8. Kris Reply

    Smile. I tend to be a negative half-empty person, so just last night I was reading that smiling for 20-30 seconds can make you happier, Not just a little smile, but an ear to ear grin. So I tried it an slept better than I had in a long time. I’m going to do it at least once in the morning and once at night. Great post!

  9. Greg Carbone Reply

    In the personal side, I leave out whatever exercise equiptment I need for the next day. Cycling shoes, gym clothes, or whatever else. I put them somewhere I can’t miss. Sometimes I wear the gym clothes to bed. That way I’m primed to go.

    Professionally, I have had good success with authorship by keeping favorite books, well written papers, or fantastic blog posts out where I can’t miss them. Such triggers helped me finish my first book and also remind me to keep my website and blog content fresh.

  10. Gail Gates Reply

    I’ve got lots of triggers. When my husband kisses me goodbye in the morning I always ask, “What kind of day are you going to have?” He can’t leave until he says, “I’m gonna have a GREAT day.” Silly? MMMhmmm. Does it work? Mmmhmmm.
    If I see an eagle soaring = great day.
    If Aerosmith’s Dream On comes on the radio = great day.
    If the cat tells me I’m going to have a great day, I’d better danged well have a great day.
    A friend recently told me that her grandmother would say,”Of course I’m going to have a great day. Anything less would be cheat’n myself.”

    :) Gail

  11. Sarah Reply

    I take a jog every morning before I let myself open email or check reddit. I also have an alarm on my computer. Every 45 minutes I get up and stretch and walk around the house/office. It keeps me creative and engaged.

  12. Martin Capodici Reply

    Yes I do this, although you have inspired me to do it more.

    If I need to so something important after work, let’s say I need to fill up with petrol for a trip the next day. As a creature of habit I usually will just drive straight home and forget. However I leave something on my seat that I need to move to start driving it triggers me to remember what I need to do.

    Like the old tying a string around your finger idea. Although I have never done that. I don’t want to advertise how forgetful I am !

  13. Joe Reply

    It is not really a trigger, but I have deliberately not complained about my router, located two floors down, which needs to be reset numerous times per day, as I use it as an exercise activity. Firstly, it prevents me from too much continuous sitting; I have made a commitment this year to always do a set of air squats while I am down there; and then, I run back up the stairs.

  14. Jerred Morris Reply

    I don’t have a daily trigger for success but I do have a weekly trigger in place. I train at Atomic Athlete which is right down the street from your office on the east side. I’ve never been more motivated to accomplish tasks or goals in my life.

    I really like the blog Noah! Keep it up.

  15. Warren Endes Reply

    I am newbie so I am still trying to learn all I can about affiliate marketing. I would say since I am trying to learn everyday my trigger would be to place my web marketing book right in front of my keyboard so I read at least 1 chapter a day.

  16. Joy Laforme Reply

    I also leave my sneakers in the hallway by the door so I have to go biking (always feel happy after that). Last year I ditched the automatic drip coffee maker for a chemex and it takes me twice as long to make my coffee but I enjoy it so much more because of the time and care I put into making it – so random, but it totally works for me. I never thought of these things as mechanisms for triggering positivity but now I’m going to think more about what else I can do! Found your blog via the Jess Lively interview you recently did and I can’t tear myself away – great stuff you have here.

  17. Cory Boatright Reply


    I dig it bro. I bought like 5 refrigerators and placed them all over my house and filled them with water. This is was due to the fact I was a convenient drinker. If the water was in the fridge where ever I happened to be int he house, I would be more likely to drink it.

    I also play guitar so I put guitars in places like my bathroom, bedroom, office. Anytime I get inspired to play, it’s very convenient to grab it and play.

    I also have a professional cook that cooks meals for me on every Sunday and dropping them off at my house. I send her an excel spreadsheet and pay her $100 on top of the bill at Wholefoods.

    Anyhoo… I tagged you on my Beef Jerkey post. I hope you chime in there on my FB. I heard lots of cool things about you bro and watched some videos you have on Youtube. I dig your style.

    Remember… be a servant,


  18. Emily Esposito Reply

    I always make my lunch and pack healthy snacks at night, so I’m not tempted to go out to eat at work the next day.

    Also — there’s a word missing in your intro and email: “My running shoes and (??) are in the middle of my hall-way. Bleh”

  19. Xavier Major Reply

    I am working hard as a part of side hustle nation. I work a full time job from 11am to 8pm and consult for INC.500 companies on the side so I have to use triggers in order to trick my brain into getting shit done!

    I put my computer in my kitchen before I go to bed so when I wake up it forces me to eat breakfast. I started putting my cellphone about 5 feet from my bed so I have to get up and turn off my alarm at 5:00am. Some things I use to help me get my day started correct!

  20. Carlo Powe-Crawford Reply

    Positive trigger: I smile everyday for my future. It looks much better than things do right now. Because I believe it, and because I said so (didn’t we all hear that one when our parents said it to us… for YEARS?). Because in the natural, no – it’s not visible. But, in the unseen world where things exist before they happen, supernaturally, it’s as true as your running shoes are sitting at your front door.

    Keep smiling. I am!

  21. Mike Bracco Reply

    My favorite positive Trigger:

    I have Sonos in my place. I set Sonos as my alarm and it automatically starts plays my “Happy Playlist”. The Happy Playlist is a list of songs I’ve curated that make me happy and/or motivates me. I hear it first thing everyday as my alarm clock.

  22. Konrad W. Gorak Reply

    I have to admit I’ve created a new habit recently. I read your blog every day right before i go to sleep. I call it “Noah’s Ark” as it makes my life easier every single day ;D

  23. Greg Dyche Reply

    calendar reminders that go out to a group of folks working on a project. if I don’t update the status, people will get a week old reminder and I’ll have to answer emails explaining why I didn’t get to the update. keep me committed to communicating to the team.

  24. Tony Reply

    I needed to stop spending money. I had a routine of buying things online during my lunch hour at work. To stop myself from shopping and buying thing I really didn’t need, I stopped bringing my wallet to work. No wallet = no spending. Simple.

  25. Rachel Reply

    My favorite positive trigger has to be the positive passwords I set for my computercomputer etc eg: workouteachday or buildingasuccessfulbusiness

  26. Bradley Taylor Reply

    Having to come up with a new meal option each night led to poor food choices. I now make a bulk set of meals on the weekend, and only have to take a prepared meal out of the freezer each week night. Variety of meals is overrated. Easy decisions about food is helping me stick to a healthy eating habit.

  27. Robert Reply

    I have setup many triggers in my office to help me keep going; here’s one example. I have the words “i will win” in all caps on my wall. I put it on my wall so that I can see it everyday and internalize it. That way anytime my brain is feeling tempted to be negative, it stops and instead I repeat those words internally.

  28. nicole Reply

    I leave my pad next to the bed so the first thing I do when I wake up is write and I have to write my 10 ideas down (thank you James Altucher) and one page

  29. Yoni Levitan Reply

    When I get home today I will put a pen & stack of recipe cards on my night table. Before bed I will write down my priorities for the next day, and immediately after getting out of bed and standing in the morning I will write three things I’m grateful for on the back of the card.

    I had a good routine for this in my last apartment, but it’s fallen off since I recently moved. This was just the kick I needed to resume this habit. I will post a follow up comment in a few hours to show that I’m a man of my word :)

  30. Nate Reply

    I do two things:

    Put books by my bed that allow me to read a bit everyday and fall asleep w positive things in my head. And I put my journal in the bathroom and write ea morning while doing my biz.

    Works well.


  31. Craig Robinson Reply

    I used to keep my alarm clock by my bed but when it went off I would just roll over, hit snooze and go back to sleep. Now I keep it as far away from my bed as possible so when it goes off I have to get out of bed to turn it off. By this time I am awake and now need a piss. The day begins!

  32. Marina Darlow Reply

    Awesome post.
    I love this technique, and try to implement it in all kind of challenging areas of my life (hint: exercise…).
    In general, I strongly believe in shaping behavior with *positive* triggers, and making your day happier as a whole.
    That’s the point, isn’t it?

    Btw, your post reminded me of a TED talk I just saw today about happiness bringing success and not the other way around, by Shawn Achor. Here:

  33. Sergie Reply

    A trigger: my only ways to the office are via the local school sports yard or an improvised pull-up bar (carpet drying rack) in the neighborhood. No way to avoid 40 to 60 smth pull-ups a day.

  34. Corinna Reply

    There is a post-it on my desk which I reminds me that it is ok not to be perfect and all knowing.
    My hiking boots stand on my doormat so by Friday I have stumbled over them so often that I go hiking on Saturday.
    I use anti-social to block social media and other websites when working.
    I have a yoga mat next to my desk.

  35. Eric Daily Reply

    I love this. I’ve recently had great success looking at disadvantages as advantages (for example, turning my lack of free time into a tool for staying focused and not wasting time), so I really loved your suggestion to not bring your powercord for your laptop!

  36. Erika Reply

    I put all of my travel pictures in my hallway so no matter what I have to look at them multiple times a day. They usually make me smile as I think about a great memory.

  37. Yulia Konovnitsyna Reply

    Great advise here! I used to get so caught up in work and not make the time to grab or eat lunch. And if i did, i took out something quick and most likely packaged. This quickly grew into a bad habit with unwanted side effects. Then one day, i tried meal prepping and made it into a ritual at my place every Sunday evening. Now i have no excuse to skip lunch or eat packaged crap. It changed my life and improved my health and happiness drastically.

    My current trigger is to always keep a bathing suit and sun-block in the car, so i have no excuse to make it to the beach at least once a week, even during the South Florida winter.

    It’s all about taking action (even the smallest of steps) to set yourself up for success.

    Thanks for the wisdom, Noah.

  38. Keith Shimon Reply

    Lately, I have put a stack of obnoxiously colored post-it notes and a pen where I eat breakfast. This forces me to write two things that I have to accomplish for that day, and their color is as unavoidable as a poisonous dart tip frog.

  39. Amanda Reply

    ALARM CLOCK! I pick a kick ass alarm clock song (like Circle of Life -Lion King- best alarm clock song EVER), then I plug it in to charge across the room so when I wake up I have to get out of bed and walk across the room, limiting my need to want to hit the snooze button. Also, I know I’ve picked the right song when I’m compelled to DANCE my way to my alarm clock 😉 Thanks Noah this was a great reminder!

  40. Chandler Reply

    Two triggers I use every single day is to set my alarm across the room so that I have to get out of bed to turn it off. By that point I’m already awake so I don’t hit the snooze. :) I also preset Scrivener in the morning with an opening sentence so that when I get up it’s not a blank screen with a blinking cursor.

  41. Jay Reply

    Leave an hour glass on a shelf next to the front door and flip it over every time I leave to remind myself that time is slipping by and it is important to take advantage of each and every day

  42. Wendy Reply

    Wow! I really needed to read this today! My mind is constantly moving and I needed that extra boost! I am a walking inferno!!!!! This was fuel to my fire!!!

  43. Jason Reply

    My new habit is to plan a quarterly plan. Then break down to monthly plans to stick on the book shelf where I see everyday when I get out of the bed

  44. Jan Koch Reply

    Great stuff Noah!
    I’ve set up a trigger that helps me get focused on my goals in the morning. When I get up, I take a look on a document that I created. That doc contains my goals for the next 3 months, principles I want to live by every day and positive affirmations.

    Learned that hack from Chris Brogan and it truly shifted my life already.

    Merry Christmas!

  45. Rick Siderfin Reply

    Excellent, Noah. Love this. Practical stuff anyone can do that will inevitably lead to greater success. I have considered placing the home router [located quite a way from my desk] on a time switch to encourage me to stop working earlier and get to bed in better time…apart from that I do the fairly commonplace trick of placing an alarm clock at the other side of the room to FORCE me out of bed in the mornings – as having 3 kids also awake at 5AM is not a desirable outcome…

  46. Lara Reply

    One of my positive triggers is leaving my current business or personal development book by the light next to my bed. Doing so reminds me to read my 10 pages that day when I first get up and doing so sets my mood and mindset for the day!