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6 Ingredients Necessary to Change Any Behavior – Dr. Tricia Cardner


Sky Matsuhashi

on March 30, 2022

I receive newsletters from Dr. Tricia Cardner of and author of Peak Poker Performance. 

On March 23rd she sent an article called “6 Ingredients Necessary to Change Any Behavior”. I found so much value in this article that I wanted to share it with my audience.

Dr. Cardner gave me permission to read it on the podcast, so here it is!

Listen to this podcast episode:

Or watch it on YouTube:


Without further ado, here's the newsletter article from Dr. Tricia Cardner with action steps and additional resources from me.

6 Ingredients Necessary to Change Any Behavior

While it might seem surprising, most of our behaviors aren't consciously chosen. We just seem to find ourselves doing the same things each day & the day after that and the day after that and so on…

It doesn't matter if the behaviors are harmful, make zero sense, or take us further from our goals. It also doesn't matter if the behaviors we want to do are good for our health, bank account, or our future as poker players. Most of us just can't seem to get ourselves to do the positive behaviors that will help us reach our goals on any sort of regular basis.

However, changing your behavior is the key to changing your life!

Is there a new habit that you want to implement? The winning recipe for any behavior change includes these 6 ingredients:

1. A clear objective.

For example, it's insufficient to tell yourself that you want to study more. What does that mean? How many hours is that? What is the breakdown of what you'll study? How often are you going to study? It's important to be specific. A few examples of clear objectives include:

  • Watch 30 minutes of a MTT Poker School Game Changer webinar each day
  • Review 5 hand histories per day
  • Read 1 chapter a day of Purposeful Practice for Poker while taking notes

1. Choose ONE strategy/skill/leak to focus on.

2. Find ONE item to study.

3. Ignore everything else! JOMO, baby!

4. Study > Play and Practice > Study > Play and Practice ~


2. Consistency.

You can't create a new behavior with a single effort. You haven't quit smoking because you refused the urge to smoke one time. Playing poker one time doesn't make you a professional. Repeating a behavior over and over is necessary if you're going to make a lasting change.

The less time you've put into a new habit, the more likely you are to have a relapse and return to your old behavioral patterns.

1. Build study and play blocks into your daily schedule.

2. Start a 30-day Challenge (or more).

Resources: and


3. Immediate rewards.

New behaviors only last if there's a reward for doing it, or a significant, immediate punishment for not doing it.

  • Take your favorite unhealthy food as an example. You might love ice cream. There's an immediate reward for eating ice cream. There is a punishment, but it's more of the long-term variety. You're not going to destroy your figure in a day by eating a bowl of ice cream.
  • With most positive behaviors, such as going to the gym, the majority of the benefits only happen in the future. Avoiding the gym is actually rewarding in the short term, but harmful in the long-term. That's why so many bad habits are hard to break, and good habits are hard to create.
  • Work out a more immediate reward you can give yourself for changing your behavior. Avoid this step at your own peril. Willpower is in short supply, so don't try to rely on it! Every Time you do something that takes you towards your goals, give yourself a small reward or a pat on the back.

Realize: “Willpower is in short supply”.

Know yourself: When is it easier for you to do the thing you know you need to do?

Me: it’s tough to get creative after 11am, so I do the creative stuff before 11am, the mundane, tedious stuff after.


4. Starting small.

Avoid starting with the objective of going to the gym for an hour each day or meditating for 90 minutes straight. These are fine objectives but it's best to create new habits and behaviors by starting small. Begin by meditating for 5 minutes, or try just showing up at the gym and doing whatever is enjoyable to you for a few minutes at a time.

Whatever it is, start with 10 minutes.

Never study? Block your study time and plan to study just 10 minutes.

Want to go from 60 minutes of play to 120 minutes? Go from 60 to 70 first.


5. Tracking progress.

See how many days you can perform your new behavior in a row. Keep track of your results – all the pounds you lose, dollars you save, pages you read, or minutes you meditate, for example.

Be sure to also track the benefits you notice as a result of changing your behavior. Do you feel better? Are you playing better?

Fill out the 41 Stats and Win Rates Tracker every 2 weeks or 3-5K hands.

Get the tracker here:



6. Persistence.

There will be plenty of bumps in the road. It's imperative to stay the course for as long as it takes. Regardless of how many setbacks you endure along the way, you simply must keep trying. How could you possibly fail in the long-term if you never gave up?

It can be challenging to change your behavior. Unfortunately, many negative behaviors are enjoyable in the short term, and many positive behaviors are only positive in the long term. This makes it difficult to stop engaging in negative behaviors and difficult to create positive behaviors.

Even so, you can make changes as long as you follow the process. Define your desired behavior, give yourself rewards, and do your best each day, and eventually success will be yours!

Expect the bumps in the road. List out what might derail you.

What’s you plan to overcome them?



Please visit to learn more about Dr. Tricia Cardner, join her newsletter and get her Rev Up Your Poker Success Course for free.


Sky Matsuhashi

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