Running has been something I wanted to do more routinely but never sustained. A few months ago I decided to experiment with a more systematic and lightweight approach to manufacture this routine in my life. All it took were 3 recurring calendar events per week (same day/time) + 6-week training plan + target time + a registered 10km run, and I was off to the races. Fast forward a few months…I crushed my goal and running is now an instinctive habit in my life. This was accomplished by applying the same design and psychology principles I use when managing tech products.

In Nir Eyal’s (@neyal99 ) Hooked, he shares his framework to manufacture desire and create habit forming technologies. While the focus is on consumer tech, it is equally applicable in how we design our lives to create routines and habits that drive performance.

The 4 components are: trigger, action, reward and investment.

Initially, external triggers will help prompt a behaviour, and over-time, we begin to form associations with internal triggers, which are tied to existing emotions and behaviours. For instance, when someone is bored, they may start browsing Facebook.

Equally impactful is the creation of variable rewards. Neuroscience has shown that we get an uptick of dopamine when the brain is expecting a reward. In other words, we get a high and become addicted to the possibility of some kind of reward. In fact, the satisfaction generated when you are close to getting that reward is often higher than actually getting the reward (known as the near mist effect). Classic examples include slot machines and lotteries.


1) What is a habit or routine that you want to form?

2) Think of the tools, people or processes that push you to take that action

3) Become aware of the emotions and behaviours right before taking that action (the goal is to eventually control the triggers opposed to relying on externalities)

4) Reduce as much friction as possible to take action

5) Introduce some variability into the outcome

6) Find ways to make the trigger more engaging, action easier to take, and reward more exciting??

See Nir’s blog post on this topic – Hooks: An Intro on How to Manufacture Desire

What habits and routines are you looking to build and how are you going about doing it? I would love to hear your story! DM me on social media: Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Originally published at

The Canvas Series is on a mission to enable leaders to systematically design their life to build momentum, drive results, and ultimately live out the goals that matter most to them. Come say hello! Jump over to our website or make a shout-out on Instagram