Friday, February 10, 2012

Change Habits with Actions Triggers

Changing habits is partly mental. To eliminate a bad habit and cultivate a good habit, you should do some mental groundwork.

Say that you've been putting off going to the gym. So you resolve to yourself: “Tomorrow morning, after my lecture is finished, I'll head straight to the gym.”

This mental plan is called an “action trigger”. You've made the decision to execute a certain action (working out), when you encounter a certain situational trigger (after the lecture).

By pre-loading a decision you create an instant habit. You pass some of the control of your behavior on to the environment. In this way, action triggers can protect goals from other competing goals, distractions or bad habits. They are most useful in the most difficult situations – the ones that are most draining to your self-control.

To trigger a desired action, you should note, in advance, exactly when and where you intend to do it. To be most effective, action triggers have to be specific and visible.

Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard.

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