In this article, you will learn about Domino habits and why you should implement them into your behavioral portfolio.

“Let my example teach you a lesson. Poverty has its freedoms; opulence has its obstacles.” Denis Dideriot

Denis Diderot, the famous french philosopher was the definition of the starving writer who knew nothing but poverty, but in 1765 his financial life was turned upside down by a strange chain of events.

When Diderot was 52 years old, his daughter was about to be married, but Diderot could not afford to come up with the dowry.

Even though Diderot was broke, he was a well-respected member of society due to creating the Encyclopédie, one of the first and more sophisticated encyclopedias of the time.

When Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia, learned about Dideriots hardship she proposed to him to buy his library for £1000 GBP, which is approximately $50000 USD in 2020.

Diderot did not only suddenly have enough money for his daughter’s wedding but he also had some spare change for himself – and he used that money to purchase a brand new scarlet robe, little did he know that this purchase would ruin everything for him…

The Diderot Effect

Diderot’s robe was wonderfully elegant, in fact, it was so beautiful that he couldn’t wear it with his other dirty old clothes anymore because it just looked unharmonious.

In his own words, there was “no more coordination, no more unity, no more beauty” between Diderot and his belongings so felt a strong compulsion to unionize the rest of his belongings with his scarlet robe.

Diderot in red gown, by Dmitry Levitzky, 1773

After he got his new robe, he went on and swapped his old dirty rug for an elegant one from Damascus.

After he purchased a new carpet he went on and redesigned his apartment with expensive sculptures.

His old straw chair was also out of place now so he “had to” replace that one with an armchair covered in Moroccan leather.

His old desk was replaced with a new writing table and his formerly beloved paintings were replaced with more costly ones and so on and so on…

The phenomenon that acquiring a new possession that deviates from the consumer’s current goods can trigger a spiraling consumption is called the Diderot effect.

The Diderot effect is based on the human tendency to align their behavior with their identity. 

When Diderot purchased his new robe his entire identity changed and suddenly his old belonging didn’t match his idea of who he was anymore.

Domino Habits – The Building Blocks of Identity

Friend; Yohooo Daniel, its friday, I’m having a party at my place, would you like to come over and get drunk with us?

Daniel; Hey man, didn’t you hear? I’m not a drinker anymore, how about a walk in the park on tuesday?

Friend; Ah sure, that sounds awesome as well. I will give you a call.

If you followed my blog for a while you know that I had my fair share of battles with addiction over the years and the conversational snippet above shows you why I was able to beat that nasty habit for good.

The key to lasting behavioral change can only found in the adoption of an identity that is congruent with the best of you.

Prior to me telling others that I’m not a drinker anymore, I told them that I’m taking a break from booze at the moment which was a big fucking difference because my friends then would then just try to convince me or wait till I’m motivated again.

Once my own idea of who was changed, their idea of who was changed and they stopped pitching me events that were incongruent with who they thought I was.

Similar to Diderot, I formed a new identity, and my old drinking habit was neither in alignment with who I thought I was nor who I wanted to become.

In the picture above you see a visualization of our tendency to align what we do with who we think we are.

The current quality of your life, therefore, comes down to the quality of the story that you tell yourself about yourself.

Read that sentence again, please.

One of the reasons why so few people manage to produce a total life makeover by themselves is because they change their goals but never change their stories about themselves.

Take a look at the two case studies below and guess who has better chances to achieve the outcome; get in shape

Josh – Has the goal of losing 20 Pounds Freddy – Has formed the identity of being an athlete
Josh’s strategy is to get his act together for the next 12 weeks because this is the time until his holiday is due and he wants to look sexy at the beach.

In order to achieve this goal Josh goes on a diet and does cardio every day until he will hit his dream weight.

Freddy changes his entire idea of who thinks he is and forms the identity of being an athlete and a health nut.

With that, he not only changes his habits but more so his lifestyle.

He doesn’t need a diet, he decides that he will learn what it takes to look good all the time.

Once he adopted his new identity his values change and he puts his vitality first.

His entire outfit changes, he gets new clothes and looks fit and young again.

He also can’t hang with his old party friends anymore and instead hangs with his new calisthenics buddies.

He also convinces his girlfriend to do his lifestyle experiment with him so he has plenty of support.


Who do you think will get better results in the long run? Agree, I also would put my money on Freddy.

Your habits, thoughts, values, and your living environment are a reflection of the story that you tell yourself about yourself.

If you want your life to change you need to adopt the responsibility of being the narrator of your life so that you can create a network of goal congruent identities.

This narrative process is easy, all you need to do is to;

  1. Figure out what your life should be like
  2. Form a vision congruent identity 
  3. Certify this identity by collecting references

First, you obviously need to know what your life should look like so you need to do a bit of soul searching and really ask yourself what kind of life outcomes you are craving at the moment.

This exercise is part of the behavior architecture coaching program.

Second, you need to form an identity that is going to move you closer towards your ideal future blueprint.

Most people are unsure about who they want to be, but everybody knows to a certain extent what they would like to have and what they do not want to have.

In step two, you need to ask yourself; What kind of identity do I need to have in order to produce this outcome? 

In step three, you have to collect proof in order to make that new identity stick and you do that by action.

An identity is a belief that you have about yourself and all beliefs are conclusions that you made about yourself with the help of memories and references.

A person who accidentally formed the idea of being a loser has attached a great amount of meaning to moments from his/her life where they failed painfully.

In order to make a new belief stick, you need to attach attention and meaning to your new references.

In simpler words; In order to make your new identity stick, you need to prove it to your brain with tiny wins.

When I started this blog, I had the dream of being a digital nomad who could travel around the world and do what he loves.

In order to acquire that identity I actually needed to collect references who prove that I am indeed the person who I was proclaiming to be.

In my case, those references were actions where I acted out my desired storyline and actually traveled around the world and worked in exotic places.

This is me pretending to work in exotic places.

Most people just accepted the narratives that their parents, teachers, friends, or society put on them, but it is possible or even necessary to re-empower yourself to decide for yourself who you want to be.

So; Forming a new identity is a three-stepped translation process of figuring out what you want, creating an identity that is congruent with that vision, and prove that identity to yourself with the help of consistent action.

Here are five examples of how that three-step process looks in real life;

Goal Identity Proof
I want to write a book I am an author Write 20 minutes every day
I want to get in shape I am an athlete Workout 5 times a week
I want to improve my romantic relationship I am a person who puts love first Have 2 dates a week
I want to be smart I am a reader Read one book a week
I want more friends Become a peoples person Meet with 3 friends a week

What are Domino Habits?

A domino habit is an action that has the power to change your identity and cause a ripple effect that goes through your entire life.

Not all habits are created equal, the habit of flushing the toilet isn’t affecting your idea of who you are but other habits such as working out cause a chain of events that often changes the identity and the story of the person entirely.

When a person is working out, they are suddenly also motivated to watch their diet, get enough sleep and they are often more reluctant to self-destructive habits such as getting wasted at the weekend because this would sabotage their gym results.

But this isn’t the end of the domino effect, a person who works out also changes their priorities and sometimes even their tribe and their living environment.

Since they now value health and discipline hanging with a bunch of couch potatoes will feel uncomfortable so they won’t only change their behavioral portfolio but they also will align their living environment and their tribe with their domino habit.

One of the most effective and powerful ways to transforms your life results is to install domino habits on purpose in order to change who you are within a short amount of time.

Below you will see the 3 levels of change that a domino habit can cause;

Below you will find 3 exemplary domino habits who change your life for the better;

Domino habit 1; Habit Journaling

Creating my habit journaling ritual came along with me forming the identity of being the architect of my behavior.

By being empowered to grow healthy habits whenever I wanted I become more confident because I suddenly could make my code of conduct an expression of the best of me.

Domino habit 2; Habit Batching 

Habit batching is a simple technique that revolves around the idea that you can swap your entire morning/night routine within 24 hours by using a cheat sheet on which you will find 10 habits that you picked beforehand.

My habit batching habit gave me the identity of being an ultra learner because I knew that I could align my days with my goals at any given time.

This flexible perception of myself allows me to tackle big challenges because I know that I’m always just one day away from finding and forming another habit batch that is going to produce the outcome that I’m after.

Domino habit 3; Mentor habit 

I believe that success is a team sport, whenever I feel stuck I find somebody who killed that stuck successfully already and I ask that person how he/she did it.

This may not sound like a big habit to have, but knowing that I’m being supported by some of the smartest people in the world empowers me to think highly of myself also.

Who do you want to be?

Up to this point, I haven’t met a single person whose life didn’t change after they changed their perception of who they are.

Most people are desiring a better 2021 (including myself), most of us however will only set new goals but won’t adopt a new identity.

This blog isn’t for most people, this blog is for you and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you find the courage to narrate your own life story again.

I certainly will do so, one new identity I formed this month was the identity of becoming a world changer and I defined for myself that this identity will be realized once I managed to positively touch the lives of one million people.

I’ve given myself 24 months for this dream so I hope that you will take the principles of this article and make your life better with it so that I only have 999999 people left to help.

P.S: Do you want to change your behavior?

If this is the case, schedule your personal 1-1 discovery call with me now by clicking this link.

The behavior strategy calls are very limited due to their high demand and I only have the capacity for 8 strategy calls a week.

This piece of content is seen by thousands of people, so let’s find out quickly how I can help you to help yourself!

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