How to Change a Habit

I’ve read many books on behavioural change, and one of my favourite was Charles Duhigg’s, the Power of Habit.  A key thing that stood out to me in the book was that to achieve a positive outcome, you are better off linking your desired outcome to an existing habit than to attempt to stop or add in a habit ad hoc. This sounds great, and evidently, based on the studies that Duhigg talked about, it works.  So why haven’t I proceeded to crush my goals at an accelerated rate?  My theory, is that it was all too theoretical, which resulted in me failing to conquer the practical aspect effectively…

Enter Pre-Suasion

This brings me to Roberto Cialdini’s newest work, Pre-Suasion.  Anyone who has asked me for a book recommendation will likely have been encouraged to read Cialdini’s previous work, Influence.  Influence taught me what the typical strategies of salespeople and the other people who are trying to change behaviour are, which made me less susceptible to the tools that they were employing.

Pre-suasion comes at it from the other side.  It’s a book about what is done before those techniques are applied to soften people up!  There are a whole lot of things that can be done to make people more susceptible to suggestion, and some of them occur before we even enter the door…

So what does Pre-Suasion have to do with The Power Of Habit?

I’m glad you asked…

If / When – Then

In chapter 9, Cialdini outlines a simple sequence that takes the idea of linking behaviours from theoretical to practical, and it’s super simple.

Here’s how it goes, just like before, behaviour A happens and then behaviour B is triggered, however, what you’ve done beforehand and on a semi-regular basis to practice initiating behaviour B is develop a simple ‘mantra’.  If/When – Then…

If I get hungry between meals then I will have a cup of tea instead.

When I finish dinner, then I will brush my teeth.

When I go to bed, then I will pack my gym bag for the morning.

So on, and so forth.  By creating a logical and explicit mental trigger, you make it dramatically easier to make a choice that is in line with your desired outcome, because you’ve planned things ahead of time when you don’t have the pressures of wanting whatever it is that is appealing to you.

I could write more on this, but in all honesty, this concept is so simple, that I think I’d be detracting from it.

What are some If / When – Then’s that you can use this week to make a positive change in your life?

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