Atomic Habits for Consultants: The Habit Loop

For new consultants, independent consultants, and professionals, understanding and applying "The Habit Loop" from James Clear's mega best-selling book, "Atomic Habits" is critical to success.

The Habit Loop concept is crucial for those aiming to start or grow their business, improve sales, boost income, and achieve greater independence and free time.

The Habit Loop has four elements for building new habits: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward.

  1. A Cue triggers a behavior.
  2. Craving is the motivation behind the habit.
  3. A Response is the action taken.
  4. A Reward satisfies the craving, reinforcing the habit.

By mastering this loop, consultants can create positive habits that drive success and eliminate negative ones that hinder progress.

Think of how many repetitive personal and business processes you do that are crucial to a better business and better life. If you make these a habit, your business and your life will be better.

Take Aways

The Habit Loop has four elements. The next time you complete a task you do frequently, stop and consider what prompted you to do each of these four elements.

  • Cue: Identify and use triggers to prompt desired behaviors.
  • Craving: Understand and harness your motivations.
  • Response: Develop effective actions to your cues.
  • Reward: Ensure your rewards reinforce positive habits.

Take Action

Building and Scaling Your Consulting Business

Use the Habit Loop to build consistency and streamline work processes. For example, setting up your work so you get the highest issue, most critical to success, completed first.

  • Remove Distractions: The night before, clear your work area and prepare breakfast as much as possible. (I’m a fitness nut in Northern California, so I fill a bowl of fruits, nuts, and berries. I add Greek yogurt in the morning, and I’m good to go.)
  • Remove Distractions: The night before, list the top three strategic projects to work on in the morning. Prioritize the one that is holding other work back.
    Put the list with your breakfast bowl or plate, so you see it first thing. (Cue)
    (DO NOT make a long list of everything you have to do. That will distract your morning.)
  • Remove Distractions: Do not read emails. If you are expecting a strategically important email scan for that one.
  • Remove Distractions: Use Time Blocking to set three hours in the morning to focus on only the most strategically important project or the obstacle that holds you back.
    (If you have young kids at home or other duties, find a two to four-hour block that fits your schedule. Many of my 27 published books were written after 8 pm.)
  • Choose the most important three strategic objectives you want to work on. (Cue)
  • Imagine how important it is to move forward and how it will feel to complete that objective. (Craving)
  • Use the Pomodoro technique to get out of your chair and stretch every 45 minutes or so. Set a ten-minute break and avoid getting distracted by “bright shiny objects” like email, social media, or household chores. (Android and iPhones have free Pomodoro apps to help you with repetitive timers.) (Response)
  • Reward yourself when you complete one of your top three strategic projects.
    (Research shows that clapping your hands for yourself and shouting “Great Job!” is almost as motivating as having others applaud you.) (Reward)
  • Make a poster on your bathroom mirror showing each strategic project you’ve completed. (Don’t cheat!) (Reward)

Selling Your Consulting Services

Learn the cues, triggers, and objection handling used by great salespeople.

  • (Cue) Learn the cues, triggers, and objection-handling methods taught by Dr. Cialdini in his Influence and Pre-suasion course. (The course is part of our Consulting Mastery course.)
  • (Cue) Study the SPIN sales method by Neil Rackham or use the role-playing software in our Consulting Mastery course. (Cue)
  • (Craving) Imagine being able to walk into a sales meeting confident you are prepared for the sales conversation.
  • (Prepare) Create “flash cards” with 3 X 5 cards or on your phone. Put the cue or trigger on one side of the card and the answer on the backside.
  • (Response) Flip through the card deck, looking at cues and triggers and answering with the correct sales response.
  • (Reward) When you can flip through your card deck and get a 100% score, reward yourself. (Mine is a scope of Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream. I reserve that as a special reward.)
  • Building practice sequences like this helps remove the tension until you become very confident in your sales.

Increasing Income and Independence

Identify cues that lead to higher income-generating activities, such as networking events or giving webinars to associations.

  • (Cue) Find associations in your niche in your area.
  • (Craving) Imagine speaking to the group and working on their board as a key figure in local associations.
  • (Response) List pain, problem, and pursuit topics for your niche that interest your Ideal Client Profile at the associations.
  • (Response) Contact the program director for local chapters of associations. Ask to speak to their group.
  • (Response) Create a speech or webinar with a “magnet high-value attraction” so attendees will want to contact you afterward. (We teach that in the Consulting Mastery course.)
  • (Reward) Follow up with contacts and give yourself a score for each follow-up.
  • (Reward) Put prospects into your automatic High-Value Nurture Sequence so you become a Top-of-Mind authority.
  • (Reward) Keep a scoreboard of how many follow-ups you do and your success rate.
    (You need more than seven follow-ups to secure engagement. So don’t give up at three.)


Emily, an independent consultant, wants to improve her client engagement.

She sees several local and virtual events in her niche. (Cue)

She imagines what it would be like to meet so many leads and build a list of prospects. She is motivated to help them. (Craving)

She prepares herself by studying the pain, problems, pursuits, and the topic of each event. She prepares a High-Value paper she can send to interested people. She also researches potential prospects before going to the event. (Response)

Emily attends the event and meets some people on her contact list. After the event, she sends them her high-value paper and asks if she can stay in touch as she learns more about their needs. They engage. (Reward)

Call to Action

Remember the four elements of the Habit Loop.

When you do a task that you repeat frequently, go back through the four elements and think of how you can create a Habit Loop to increase your productivity, gain more clients, and have more free time.

Consistently using a Habit Loop will help you start, build, and scale a highly successful consulting business.

Learn more about the Habit Loops that will build your consulting business.
Download the Ultimate Guide to Starting, Building, and Scaling a Consulting Business. 


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