This tip follows on from Friday’s An Alternative to Willpower. I want to make sure I’ve explained the underlying principle really clearly.
You can create subtle changes in your behaviour by…
Changing the external cues you encounter in your daily life, in a way that increases the probability of you doing the behaviour you want to increase.
It’s easy to think of punitive-sounding examples like removing your sofa and any other seating from your lounge, and replacing them with a treadmill. However, try to think of examples that both fulfill the principle, and that you associate with positive emotions.
For example, say you’re a Dad and an important value for you is that you want to spend more just-the-two-of-you time with your 5 year old daughter. You might encourage your partner to go to the movies one night a week, and let your daughter know that you’ll do anything she wants that night while the two of you are home together. That way, your Daddy-daughter alone time is automatically scheduled.
In this example, the change in the external cues virtually guarantees you will do more of the behaviour you want to increase (Daddy-daughter just the two of you time). But, its also worthwhile putting cues in place that just nudge up the probability of you doing the behaviour you want to increase. All the little probability changes add up to significant change. Again, try to come up with examples that fulfill the principle and that you associate with positive emotions, rather than examples that feel like punishment.