What is an Action Trigger?

You are driving home from work one night and you notice that you are running low on petrol. You pull into your local petrol station to fill up before you get home, after filling up you go into the store to pay and as you are waiting in line you notice your favourite chocolate bar is on special. You wouldn’t normally buy it but since it’s on special you decide to go ahead and treat yourself to this tasty treat. 

A week later you are driving home again and it’s that time again to put petrol in your car. You go through the same process and as you are walking towards the door of the store a thought pops up in your head ‘I might get my favourite chocolate bar again’. Low and behold as you get to the checkout you have that chocolate bar in hand ready to pay for it. From this moment forward every time you think about going to the petrol station the tempting chocolate treat will pop into your head. The action of going to the petrol station triggers the thought of buying your favourite chocolate bar. 

What I have described above is called an Action Trigger, let me describe it in more detail. Often when we make a decision we trigger off the next decision that will be made, decision A will trigger off decision B and so on. In the example above, going to your local petrol station triggers the thought of buying a chocolate bar. Think about yourself for a second, can you think of some examples of Action Triggers that are activated when you make certain decisions in your life? Those times when once you make one decision the next action pops into your head. You may have never noticed this before but as you think about it now you may find that you experience Action Triggers quite a lot in your life. 

Action Triggers can be both good and bad, sometimes they will lead to bad behaviors, like creating that habit of buying a chocolate bar at the petrol station, and other times they will lead to good behaviors, for example when you get to the last part of your training session you always give it 100% until the end. When we start to become aware of our own Action Triggers the key thing we are looking for are which ones are good for us and which ones lead us to behaviours that we don’t like or want to change. 

The great news about Action Triggers is that you can change them. You can shift, or re-programme what the next thought in your decision pattern will be. The first step is to become aware of what your Action Triggers are, you can look to the different situations in your life and identify the line of thinking that you experience when you are in those situations.  ‘When I go to the petrol station I think about having a chocolate bar’, once you have created that awareness the next step is to programme what the next thought or action will be, for example ‘When I go to the petrol station I will pay my bill and walk straight out the door’. 

The key here is that you have placed that thought in your mind before you have the experience of going to the petrol station. You may have practiced it a few times, you might have even visualized yourself in the situation following through the changed decision-making pattern. If you do this well you will find that when you are presented with that moment your mind will have a new direction to take which will lead to you walking out the door without a chocolate bar in hand. 

When it comes to the good behaviours you have, with Action Triggers you can look to advance the thinking process you currently have. Scan over that line of thinking and see if you can discover more evolved thoughts to put in place and then practice actually putting those in place. 

There are a lot of great mind tools that we can use to help us stay in our best place. By understanding what Action Triggers are and reflecting on when they are good and not so good in our life we can choose to practice and evolve our own thinking process which will lead to better outcomes for ourselves. 


If you enjoy my pieces you can get them emailed to you when I put them on the internet. This way you won't have to come back to my website to check when a new piece is out. Don't worry I won't spam you. If you want to join up just put your details in here:


Bevan Eyles