Feedback Loops and Habits

With the new year approaching, many people are thinking about what they want to accomplish. A friend told me his weight loss goal for 2023 and asked for feedback. I think he was hoping I’d share my experiences with food or exercises. Instead, I had one piece of advice: start simple by weighing yourself daily. It takes five seconds and doesn’t require changing your life as you’ve known it.

Losing weight is hard for many people—especially when they make abrupt changes. Starting with a feedback loop, instead of big changes, can be a great first step. By measuring something every day that you want to improve, you’re more likely to change your behavior. And if you change your daily behavior, you’re more likely to form habits that contribute to achieving a goal. For example, if you weigh yourself every day, you’re more likely to rethink eating a piece of cake after dinner if you don’t like what you saw on the scale that morning. If you establish a habit of not eating desserts, that reduces your calorie count, which can get you closer to your weight loss goal. Of course, you need to do other things, including upping your physical activity—but you get the idea.

Feedback loops can be a simple but powerful way of taking the first step toward forming powerful habits that align with a goal. Next time you think about something you want to accomplish, ask yourself what feedback loop will send you down the right path.