In marketing, we use very often a concept called "Call to Action". Serving a message or making a service or product known isn't enough, it is about convincing people to actually act upon it. Today, I'd like to present you how to turn this concept of Call to Action into a personal tool to create and maintain good habits.
What is a call to action exactly? I am not going to turn this post into a marketing class, but here are simple examples which you can find in your daily life. It is, simply, the "See Now" button at the end of an online advertisement or newsletter. It is the "Buy" button at the bottom of a product page. Basically, the concept is to make it easy for you to take action after seeing the communication: buy the product, browse the sales section, join a contest...
What I'm interested in today, is to explain why this Call to Action makes it easy to act upon the ad, and how to create a similar concept in your daily life to make easy habits easy to act upon as well.
A Call to Action is ConcreteIn a newsletter or on a website, the call to action usually materializes with concrete words "Browse", "Join", "Buy", "Register", "Add to Basket"... It points you toward a very simple and concrete action, something very clear for you to understand. For example, say you receive a newsletter from a clothing brand that presents you their new Spring/Summer collection. A call to action would be as concrete as "Buy this style" or "Browse the lookbook".
Similarly, if you are to set up your own call to action for a new daily habit, it has to be concrete. Instead of just saying "meditate", it could say "Use headspace now". Instead of saying "read more", it could say "find the closest library".
A Call to Action is ImmediateThe concept of the call to action is to make you act now, while your attention is still on the newsletter, website etc. If you say 'Come back tomorrow to check the new collection', chances are that tomorrow you'll be busy doing something else, and they'll have lost you. It has to be "Browse Now". For example, in the video game industry where we often communicate on games which are not yet released, the call to action wouldn't be "remember to buy it on February 15", but rather "Pre-Order Now".
It is the same for your daily habits - you have to set up a trigger that makes you engage in the habit now. For example, meditate every morning right after you brush your teeth. After you're done with brushing your teeth, you'd be like: "meditate now". It is way more efficient than keeping the habit blurry "meditate every day", yes, but when? As far as I'm concerned, it ends up being never.
A Call to Action is EasyThe idea is to get the customer to take action, and if they have to go through several websites, enter some codes, find an information at the bottom of the page and all, they will just give up. Usually, a call to action materializes as a big fat button you can't miss, and the only thing you have to do is click on it. Have you noticed how quick it is to buy something on Amazon for example? Once you have an account, it's like two clicks and one confirmation. The easier it is, the more people will go through with it.
Again, it is the same for habits. As Nerd Fitness presented it in their "Bat Cave for Habit Change" post, you have to make it easy for you to preactice your good habits. Keep healthy snacks in the fridge, your current book on the nightstand or in your handbag, your DIY tools in a visible spot... The easiest it is to engage in the habit, the less willpower you will need to make it happen.
Some ExamplesIn case the parallel between this "Call to Action" and implementing good habits was still too abstract for you, here are a couple of examples for you to make it more concrete and easier to apply to your own habits.
- Playing the violin habit: I have set weekly lessons with a teacher (concrete), play at least half an hour right after coming back from work (immediate), and keep the violin on a stand in the middle of the living room (easy). (this works for any creative/skill/DIY habit)
- Eating Healthy: I have a weekly list of ingredients to buy and corresponding recipes to cook on Sundays (concrete), I keep apples and nuts in my bag in case of hunger (immediate) and only keep healthy food at home (easy).
- Writing Habit: I have my manuscripts on a dropbox account to be able to access it from any computer (concrete), set up a daily trigger of writing right after I finish my morning coffee (immediate) and keep my notebooks, ideas and drafts in an A4 box just next to my kitchen table (easy).
I hope this little analogy was useful to you and that you'll be able to use this tool as a way to improve your habits. What are your tricks to make good habits stick to your daily life?