The Domino Effect
When Jennifer Dukes Lee decided to make her bed every day, she was building a new habit, one that would lead to other habits, eventually changing the way she looked at herself. It was a small step, but the momentum she gained was incredible.
As each tiny domino fell, she began to believe that she was the kind of person who kept her home tidy and organized. That belief grew into an identity-based habit, one that was easy to maintain and would create a cascade of positive changes.
She started to make her bed four days in a row, but then she found herself picking up dirty dishes from the sink and folding Tupperware in her kitchen cupboard. She also moved her dirty laundry from the bedroom to the laundry room and reorganized her closet, which she had not done in years.
Then she moved the ornamental pig that was in her bedroom to the living room, and the reorganization was complete. When she did that, she felt like a brand-new person.
In this way, the Domino Effect applies to any new behavior that you want to build into your life. Whether it’s a new exercise routine, or a healthier eating plan, or a more thoughtful and intentional approach to your career, the process of building a habit is similar.
First, start by choosing a single habit that you’re excited about and focusing on it every day until it’s complete. Focusing on just that one habit ensures that you’re making progress, and the momentum that it brings will push you to the next thing.
After she’s finished with that first habit, she tries to find something else to commit to. For example, if she was trying to lose weight, she might try to walk at least 30 minutes a day.
As she’s walking, she focuses on her breathing pattern and how she feels, thinking about the energy she’s feeling and how she’s feeling about herself. She tries to build in time for herself to rest and reflect, too.
Those moments of reflection will help her to realize that she’s still on track, and to keep moving forward. Then she’ll make a conscious decision to do it again the next day.
Then, she will re-commit to the new behavior, and she’ll repeat it again until it becomes a part of her everyday life. This is called a self-perpetuating cycle, and it’s the best way to get your habit to take root in your life.
Lily Hevesh, a professional domino artist, creates mind-blowing setups for movies and TV shows. She follows a process similar to engineering design, starting with brainstorming ideas and moving through the different stages of the process before putting her creations together.
When she creates her domino designs, Hevesh takes inspiration from various aspects of the theme or purpose for the installation. She may choose images or words to use, or she might decide on a particular color scheme or font style to represent the theme.