How to Use Prompts to Turn Your Personal Development Goals Into Actual Habits

Your environment can remind you to apply the appropriate self-care tools when you need them the most

Ricky Derisz
Published in
8 min readFeb 21, 2022


Photo by Rishabh Dharmani on Unsplash

During my 15 years as a self-help junkie, I’ve frequently found myself in the tricky territory between learning a new concept and actually being able to apply that concept to my own life. With much trial and error, however, I’ve made huge strides in transforming behaviors and breaking free of cycles I thought would stay with me forever.

After a recent conversation with a friend who struggles to apply the self-help knowledge he’s gained, I started to dig into the subtle mechanisms of application. Was there something I was doing to make applying knowledge easier, to avoid the trap of self-help consumption as mere entertainment?

It’s worth noting that this issue is complex and depends on each person’s psychology. But in better understanding my own approach, I’ve identified an easy and effective practice to heighten the odds of applying the right tools at the right time. I present to you: the prompt.

What’s a prompt?

The relevant definition for this context is “to cause (someone) to do (something)”. Pretty simple, right? The image that comes to my mind is a theatre director prompting actors to take the stage, to respond in a certain way, or cut the scene at the relevant time. In other words, a prompt is an action or event that leads to a certain response.

Prompts are events that remind us to be self-aware.

You’re already a pro at prompts. Every time you respond to a notification, stop at a red light, get a pang of anxiety when speaking to someone you find difficult, set an alarm to wake up in the morning… Prompts are everywhere, and you’re responding to them all the time.

What links prompts with self-development? Prompts can be reverse-engineered to support the application of knowledge, because applying knowledge follows this rough process:

  • Learning the theory or practice.
  • Knowing how to apply the theory or practice.
  • Knowing when to apply…



Ricky Derisz
Writer for

Author. Podcast host. Creator of Free copy of my book Mindsets for Mindfulness 👉 It’s a bribe, but worth it.