Anxiety is a massive barrier to changing habits. It gets in the way of trying new things, going new places and meeting new people.
So why not turn it to your advantage?
Two ways to kick-start behaviour change
I’ve recently been helping guests at a health retreat understand their habits so they can improve their well-being.
You see, there are really two key ways to kick start behaviour change.
- Change the environment so behaviour is shaped as a result
- Create motivation to change
1. Changing the environment
Your environment has a big impact on your behaviour. Take the nutritionists, for example, who inadvertently consumed 31% more ice cream if they happened to be given a bigger bowl to scoop their dessert into. Or the research participants who were better able to solve anagrams related to ‘freedom’ while in a room with a high ceiling, than when they were faced with anagrams related to ‘confinement’. Or the longitudinal study that found that who we hang out in our social environment with impacts our risk of obesity. When it comes to kick starting our habits, we need to consider where we are and who is with us.
2. Creating motivation
The other key way to change behaviour is to create sufficient motivation to start, and a good way to do that is to build tension.
- Tension about sticking with the status quo – concerns about staying the same
- Tension about not changing – what you’ll miss out on if you don’t change
To do that you can work your way through four questions (based on Wellness Coaching Australia’s Decisional Balance tool).
- What are the benefits of staying the same?
- What are my concerns about staying the same?
- What are my concerns about changing?
- What are the benefits of changing?
By working your way through these questions you will better understand what’s holding you back and give yourself the injection of motivation to kick-start habit change.
Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.