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The key points of 'Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts - Becoming the Person You Want to Be By Marshall Goldsmith

In 'Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts - Becoming the Person You Want to Be,' Marshall Goldsmith explores the intricate dynamics of behavioral change and the various factors that influence our ability to alter our habits and actions. The book offers a comprehensive guide to understanding the stimuli that prompt our behaviors, the beliefs that underpin our actions, and practical strategies for creating lasting change. Through a combination of psychological insights and actionable advice, Goldsmith equips readers with the tools necessary to transform their lives and become the individuals they aspire to be.

Key Takeaways

  • Behavioral triggers are stimuli that can prompt both positive and negative behaviors, and recognizing them is crucial for self-improvement.

  • Beliefs play a central role in shaping behaviors, and aligning beliefs with desired outcomes is essential for meaningful change.

  • The Wheel of Change Model provides a framework for understanding the elements of change and how to apply them for personal growth.

  • Overcoming resistance and inertia requires identifying the root causes of procrastination and employing targeted strategies to build momentum.

  • Sustaining progress in behavior change is a continuous process that involves follow-through, accountability, and adaptability in the face of challenges.

Understanding Behavioral Triggers

Defining Triggers in Everyday Life

In our daily lives, triggers are stimuli that prompt a behavioral response, often without our conscious awareness. These can range from external cues, like the sound of an alarm clock, to internal states, such as emotions or thoughts. Recognizing these triggers is the first step towards modifying our behavior.

Triggers can be both positive and negative, and understanding the distinction is crucial for personal development. Positive triggers, for example, can boost confidence through past successes, while negative triggers might lead to procrastination or unhealthy habits.

Identifying personal triggers involves self-reflection and monitoring. Here's a simple process to start:

  1. Observe your reactions to different situations.

  2. Note the triggers that precede these reactions.

  3. Assess whether the triggers lead to desirable or undesirable behaviors.

  4. Adjust your environment or mindset to minimize negative triggers and maximize positive ones.

Types of Triggers and Their Effects

In the realm of personal development, understanding the types of triggers that prompt our behaviors is crucial. Triggers can be external or internal, ranging from environmental cues to emotional states. External triggers are stimuli from our surroundings that can lead to automatic responses, while internal triggers are thoughts or feelings that can provoke certain actions.

Triggers are not just catalysts for action; they can also shape the intensity and duration of our behaviors. For instance, a stressful day at work (an external trigger) might lead to a longer-than-usual evening run (a behavior), as a form of stress relief.

  • External Triggers: People, environments, events

  • Internal Triggers: Thoughts, emotions, physical sensations

Understanding the effects of different triggers can help us design better strategies for behavior change. By recognizing what prompts our actions, we can create environments and mindsets that support our goals.

The Impact of Environment on Behavior

Our surroundings play a pivotal role in shaping our actions and reactions. The environment acts as a silent orchestrator of behavior, often without our conscious awareness. From the physical space we occupy to the social circles we interact with, each aspect can serve as a trigger for certain behaviors.

Environmental cues can be both positive and negative, influencing our behavior in subtle yet significant ways. For instance, a well-organized workspace may promote productivity, while a cluttered one can lead to distraction and procrastination.

  • A tidy, minimalist space can encourage focus and efficiency.

  • Natural light has been shown to boost mood and energy levels.

  • The presence of plants can reduce stress and enhance creativity.

  • Social environments that foster support and positive reinforcement can motivate personal growth.

The Role of Belief in Behavior Change

The Power of Belief Systems

Belief systems are the bedrock of our behaviors; they shape our perceptions and drive our actions. Beliefs act as a filter through which we interpret the world, and they can either empower us or limit our potential. Recognizing the influence of these belief systems is crucial for anyone seeking to make lasting changes in their life.

Resilience, mindset, and confidence are integral components of a strong belief system. A growth mindset, in particular, encourages continuous learning and the embrace of challenges as opportunities for development. Overcoming the fear of failure is essential for both personal and professional success.

  • Recognize limiting beliefs

  • Challenge and replace them with empowering ones

  • Cultivate a growth mindset

  • Build resilience and confidence

Challenging and Changing Limiting Beliefs

Limiting beliefs are often the silent saboteurs of personal growth and well-being. To challenge and change these beliefs, it is essential to first identify them. Self-awareness is the starting point for this transformative process. Once recognized, these beliefs can be scrutinized for their accuracy and helpfulness.

Reprogramming the mind with empowering beliefs is akin to updating outdated software. Techniques such as affirmations, visualization, and cognitive restructuring can be instrumental in this endeavor. It's not just about positive thinking; it's about creating a new reality that supports your goals and aspirations.

To solidify the change, consider the following steps:

  • Acknowledge the limiting belief

  • Assess its impact on your life

  • Challenge its validity

  • Replace it with an empowering belief

  • Reinforce the new belief through practice and evidence

Aligning Beliefs with Desired Behaviors

To achieve lasting behavioral change, it's essential to align one's beliefs with the desired behaviors. This alignment ensures that actions are not only taken but are sustained over time, leading to genuine transformation. Belief alignment acts as a compass, guiding individuals through the complexities of change and reinforcing their commitment to new patterns of behavior.

  • Identify core beliefs and values

  • Assess how these beliefs influence current behaviors

  • Determine the desired behaviors and outcomes

  • Align beliefs with these desired behaviors through intentional practice and reinforcement

Contributing to causes through personal alignment, collaboration, and values leads to motivation and ethical behavior. 'Drive' by Daniel H. Pink redefines motivation in the workplace, highlighting the importance of intrinsic motivation which is closely tied to belief alignment.

Strategies for Lasting Change

The Wheel of Change Model

The Wheel of Change Model, introduced by Marshall Goldsmith, is a powerful framework for understanding and implementing change in our lives. At its core, the model revolves around four key concepts: Creating, Preserving, Eliminating, and Accepting. These represent the different types of strategies we can employ to manage change effectively.

  • Creating: involves developing new behaviors or practices that align with our goals.

  • Preserving: focuses on maintaining the valuable aspects of our current behavior.

  • Eliminating: is about removing the habits or mindsets that hinder our progress.

  • Accepting: requires us to recognize the things we cannot change and to adapt accordingly.

The model encourages reflection on which areas require more attention and which strategies will be most effective. It's not just about making changes but also about sustaining them through continuous self-assessment and adjustment.

Creating Effective Behavioral Feedback Loops

To foster disciplined behavior, it is essential to recognize triggers and set clear goals. Establishing routines and practicing self-restraint are foundational steps in this process. A well-defined plan, aligned with one's priorities and self-care, can significantly enhance the effectiveness of feedback loops.

Accountability plays a crucial role in maintaining discipline. Taking ownership of one's actions, admitting mistakes, and analyzing failures are all part of a robust feedback mechanism. Making amends when necessary also reinforces the learning from feedback loops.

Creating effective behavioral feedback loops involves:

  • Recognizing and understanding personal triggers

  • Setting clear, achievable goals

  • Establishing and adhering to routines

  • Practicing self-restraint and discipline

  • Taking ownership and accountability for actions

Employing Active Questions for Self-Assessment

Active questions are a cornerstone of self-assessment and personal development. By asking ourselves the right questions, we can gain insights into our behaviors and motivations. Active questions differ from passive questions in that they focus on what we can do, rather than what is happening to us. This subtle shift in perspective empowers us to take control of our actions and their outcomes.

Strategies for increasing self-awareness include a variety of approaches such as journaling for reflection, feedback loops for growth, mindfulness for present awareness, and self-management techniques for self-control. Each of these strategies can be integrated into our daily routine to help us become more conscious of our actions and decisions.

Here is a simple list of active questions that can be incorporated into a daily self-assessment routine:

  • Am I taking steps today to become the person I want to be?

  • What have I done today to move towards my goals?

  • How have my actions today aligned with my core values?

  • In what ways have I improved from yesterday?

Overcoming Resistance and Inertia

Identifying Sources of Resistance

When attempting to make a change, recognizing the sources of resistance is crucial. Resistance can manifest in various forms, from internal doubts to external pressures. It's essential to understand that resistance is often a natural reaction to change and not necessarily an indicator of failure.

Internal resistance might include a lack of self-confidence, fear of the unknown, or comfort with the status quo. External resistance can come from peers, societal expectations, or even the physical environment. To effectively address resistance, one must first identify its root causes.

  • Self-doubt or low self-esteem

  • Fear of failure or success

  • Attachment to old habits or routines

  • Peer pressure or social influence

  • Environmental factors or resource limitations

Strategies to Overcome Procrastination

To effectively overcome procrastination, it's essential to build deep work habits that foster concentration and productivity. Start by creating a dedicated workspace that is free from interruptions, signaling to your brain that it's time to focus. Setting clear goals provides direction and a sense of purpose, making it easier to get started and maintain momentum.

Eliminating distractions is crucial; consider using technology to your advantage. Apps that block social media or track time can help keep you on task. Integrate deep work with technology to not only remove distractions but also to enhance productivity through tools that streamline your workflow.

Remember, procrastination is often a symptom of larger issues such as fear of failure or a lack of motivation. Addressing these underlying causes is just as important as implementing practical strategies.

Building Momentum for Change

Once the initial hurdles of resistance are overcome, building momentum becomes crucial for sustaining change. Momentum can be likened to a force that, once generated, propels us forward, making subsequent efforts easier and more effective. To build this momentum, it's essential to celebrate small victories and recognize incremental progress.

Consistency is the key to maintaining momentum. By committing to regular, small actions, the process of change becomes more manageable and less daunting. Consider the following steps to keep the momentum going:

  • Set clear, achievable goals.

  • Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.

  • Regularly review progress and adjust plans as necessary.

  • Stay flexible and adapt to new information or changes in circumstances.

Remember, the journey of change is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience and perseverance are vital in seeing the transformation through to completion.

Sustaining Progress and Maintaining New Behaviors

The Importance of Follow-Through

The journey of personal transformation is never complete without consistent follow-through. It's one thing to set goals and envision a better self, but the true test lies in the discipline required to achieve those aspirations. Follow-through ensures that the initial effort put into setting goals is not wasted and that the momentum gained is not lost.

  • Establish clear routines that align with your goals.

  • Regularly track your progress to stay motivated.

  • Celebrate small milestones to maintain enthusiasm.

  • Be prepared to adjust your strategies as you learn what works best for you.

Without follow-through, even the most well-intentioned plans can falter. It is the habit of seeing things through to completion that transforms temporary changes into lasting behaviors. By celebrating each milestone, no matter how small, we reinforce the positive behaviors that lead to success.

Developing Support Systems for Accountability

Creating a robust support system is crucial for maintaining new behaviors and ensuring long-term success. Accountability partners, such as friends, family, or mentors, can provide the necessary encouragement and perspective to keep you on track. It's important to choose individuals who are supportive, yet willing to provide honest feedback.

Consistency is key when developing new habits. Regular check-ins with your support system can help reinforce your commitment to change. These interactions can be structured as formal meetings or casual conversations, depending on what works best for you.

Here are some strategies for staying on track:

  • Boost confidence

  • Establish routines

  • Identify triggers

  • Set clear goals

  • Practice self-restraint

  • Celebrate milestones

  • Leverage community and mentorship

Adapting to New Challenges and Setbacks

Adapting to new challenges and setbacks is an inevitable part of sustaining behavioral change. Resilience is not just about bouncing back, but also about adapting to new circumstances and learning from experiences. When faced with setbacks, it's crucial to analyze the situation and identify what can be learned.

Reflection is key to understanding the nature of the setback and planning how to move forward. Consider the following steps:

  • Acknowledge the setback and allow yourself to feel the emotions associated with it.

  • Identify the factors that contributed to the challenge or setback.

  • Develop a plan to address these factors and prevent similar issues in the future.

Maintaining new behaviors requires flexibility and the willingness to adjust strategies as needed. When new obstacles arise, revisit your goals and the methods you've employed to achieve them. This continuous process of adaptation ensures that progress is not halted by unforeseen challenges.


In 'Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts - Becoming the Person You Want to Be,' Marshall Goldsmith provides a comprehensive guide to understanding the stimuli that prompt our behaviors and how we can harness them to foster positive change. The book delves into the psychology behind why we resist change and offers practical strategies for overcoming these obstacles. By recognizing our environmental and psychological triggers, we can create plans to counteract them and establish more constructive habits. Goldsmith's insights empower readers to take control of their personal development and become the individuals they aspire to be. The key points discussed in this article underscore the importance of self-awareness, accountability, and intentional action in the journey towards lasting behavioral transformation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are behavioral triggers as discussed in 'Triggers' by Marshall Goldsmith?

Behavioral triggers are any stimuli that impact our behavior and can provoke a change in our actions or attitudes. In 'Triggers,' Goldsmith explores how these triggers can come from our environment, the people around us, or even our internal thoughts and feelings.

Can you explain the different types of triggers mentioned in the book?

The book categorizes triggers into several types, including environmental triggers, relationship triggers, and situational triggers, each affecting behavior in distinct ways. Understanding these types can help individuals recognize and respond to triggers more effectively.

How does our belief system influence our ability to change behavior?

Our belief system plays a crucial role in behavior change. If we hold limiting beliefs, they can hinder our growth. Goldsmith emphasizes the need to challenge and reshape these beliefs to align with the behaviors we wish to adopt.

What is the Wheel of Change Model that Goldsmith proposes?

The Wheel of Change Model is a conceptual tool that helps individuals understand the dynamics of change. It involves four aspects: creating, preserving, eliminating, and accepting. This model guides people in making conscious decisions about what to change and what to maintain in their lives.

Why is it often difficult to overcome resistance to change, according to 'Triggers'?

Resistance to change is often due to a combination of comfort with the status quo, fear of the unknown, and the effort required to make a change. Goldsmith discusses strategies to overcome this inertia by identifying resistance sources and taking proactive steps towards change.

How does Goldsmith suggest we sustain progress and maintain new behaviors?

To sustain progress, Goldsmith suggests the importance of follow-through and accountability. He recommends developing support systems, using active questions for daily self-assessment, and being adaptable to challenges and setbacks to maintain the new behaviors.

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