“Relying primarily on motivation to change your behaviour is not a great strategy”
In one of my videos (click to watch) I discussed the four stages of a habit and the four laws of behaviour change according to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. I shared how to use this information to make or break habits, or according to some scientists, you can't break a habit but rather transform it.
Here I'm going to elaborate on the "cue" or "trigger", which is one of the four stages, and its connection to your environment. The cue is what initiates the behaviour, whether it is desired or not. Quite often the cues don’t stand out, and are not obvious. For example, lets say want to read your book at night but your bookshelf is in the corner of the spare room, in a place not so obvious. Or, for instance, it's easy to forget to take your supplements if they are in a draw and not visible. In other words, cues that are hidden out of sight tend to be easily ignored.
Your environment is therefore one of the most important things to consider.
The environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behaviour. The world around us majorly influences everything we do. In order to change your behaviour you need to change your environment. The good thing here is you can design your environment to make the cues more obvious. You can be the architect of your own environment!
For example, if you wish to read your book at night, then to initiate the behaviour you could use your book as a cue by leaving it by your bed. If you want to remember to take you supplements in the evening, put them somewhere obvious, like next to your toothbrush. Maybe you want to reduce mindless eating so you might remove unhealthy food from your view and put more fruit and nuts there instead. If you are working at home, you would adapt your environment so you are exposed to cues that will trigger the behaviour you want or desire.
Changing your environment doesn’t just mean physical objects, it can also refer to the people in your life and who you spend your time with. It's possible to change your social environment too. This doesn't mean you have to ditch your friends, just be strategic about when you might catch up with friends or hang around them. It all depends on what it is you are wanting to do.
You need to design the environment for the behaviours that led to your desired outcome.
Another tactic that can really help is placing your desired behaviour straight after a habit you already do each day. This is called habit stacking, which was created by behavioural scientist, BJ Fogg. It's a smart idea as it takes advantage of already strong connections in your brain. You are also making the cue even more obvious. Using the example I've mentioned above, if you're taking supplements, you could place them next to your toothbrush so just before brushing your teeth you are reminded to take your supplements.
So what can you do now?
Have a think about any behaviour you want to change or adapt and if it's possible, start designing your physical and social environment to support that behaviour. Enjoy experimenting and see how it goes.
Send me a message on instagram or flick me an email and let me know how you get on! If you have any questions, ask away and I'll see if I can help.
Happy habit building!
Stay safe, be kind and much love
Recommended books & referencing for this post
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
“Tiny Habits” by BJ Fogg