Source 1: Love What You Hate
One of the greatest challenges to change is the fact that the things that people should do are often tedious or uncomfortable. As a result, people resist engaging in these activities. If individuals can transform unpleasant activities into pleasurable ones, they can make significant progress toward their goals. The authors recommend five tactics for turning the future into a positive force for change.
1. Visit the default future. The default future showcases the life that a person will experience if behaviors are not changed. When individuals consider the worst case scenarios that could affect them, they are often motivated to change.
2. Tell the whole vivid story. When Changers encounter temptations, they are sure to tell themselves the whole story concerning the situation. As a part of identifying specific consequences of bad behaviors, it is important to use vibrant language, as well as specific and meaningful labels to fully remember the behaviors experienced.
3. Use “value words.” Instead of focusing on the unpleasant aspects of new habits, it is better to focus on the values that those activities support. It can be very satisfying to know that new behaviors are closely linked to values.
4. Make it a game. A common technique used by successful Changers to increase their motivation is to turn chores into games. These games have three key elements: they have a limited duration, a small challenge, and a score.
5. Create a Personal Motivation Statement. When crucial moments arise, it is possible to rewire thoughts regarding how to respond by using a Personal Motivation Statement. The best statements include references to the default future, include vivid descriptions, and incorporate lots of value words.
Source 2: Do What You Cannot
When it comes to personal change programs, skills and knowledge are just as important as willpower. When people enhance their personal abilities, it enables them to do things that used to be difficult. As a result, change can occur faster. The authors suggest using three tactics to build skills that will support personal change initiatives:
1. Start with a skill scan. Before implementing a change plan, it is a good idea for people to scan whether they have the abilities necessary to achieve their goals. It may be hard for an individual to identify what skills they are lacking. As a result, it can be useful to seek help from others.
2. Employ deliberate practice. When people have debilitating fears related to new behaviors, it can be very difficult to change habits. However, using deliberate practice has been shown to help people learn new skills two to three times faster than other methods. A good first step is to practice for crucial moments by determining what skills will be necessary to survive these high stakes situations. Once the skills have been identified, people should break them into small pieces and practice each skill in short intervals. It can be beneficial to evaluate progress as well as prepare for setbacks.
3. Learn the will skill. Despite popular belief, willpower can be learned, and the best way to learn it is through deliberate practice. First, it is necessary to enumerate crucial moments from the least risky to the most risky. Begin deliberate practice by placing oneself in a tempting, but low-risk situation and then use a tool, such as distraction, to strengthen willpower. The authors recommend engaging in riskier situations only if a coach is available.
Sources 3 and 4: Turn Accomplices into Friends
People in positions of authority wield social pressure which can influence people in positive and negative ways. Negative influences can be very challenging when an individual is striving to change habits. However, it is possible to use social pressure as a positive force for making behavior changes. The authors outline five tactics that people can use to transform others into positive influences:
1. Know who is a friend and who is an accomplice. Friends support others as they strive to live better lives. Accomplices, in contrast, promote negative behaviors. It is important to keep in mind that peers define what appears to be “normal” and acceptable. In addition, peers also can lower a person’s aspirations and hold a person accountable to bad behaviors. People who want to change must identify the accomplices in their life and either ask them to become friends or minimize interaction with them. People with six or more friends are almost 40 percent more likely to succeed than those with less than half a dozen friends.
2. Redefine normal. Since accomplices can affect what people believe is “normal,” it is a good idea to rise above the shared sense of what is acceptable. People can do this by asking themselves how they want to live and feel, and who they want to be.
3. Hold a transformation conversation. An effective way to transform others into coaches and fans is to tell exactly what is needed to succeed. During a transformation conversation, a person explains to others how they unintentionally promote bad behaviors and asks for a healthier relationship.
4. Add new friends. One way to find new friends is to join associations and social networks comprised of like-minded people.
5. Create distance with the unwilling. If a peer is unwilling to become a friend, it is necessary to create distance with that individual. This can be painful, but the negative power of accomplices cannot be underestimated.
Source 5: Invert the Economy
Incentives often motivate behaviors, but unfortunately those behaviors are often the wrong ones. One effective way to change habits is to invert the economy and create penalties for engaging in unhealthy behaviors. The authors outline three tactics that can be used to motivate change:
1. Use carrots and the threat of losing carrots. Human nature motivates people to avoid loss. As a result, when individuals put something that they value at risk, they are more likely to change. For instance, after paying for a personal trainer, people are more likely to go to the gym because they do not like paying for services that go unused.
2. Use incentives in moderation and in combination. Big incentives can be counterproductive because they become a primary source of motivation. Small rewards, used in moderation and in combination with social and personal motivators, are usually most effective.
3. Reward small wins. A good practice is to break large, long-term goals into smaller, short-term ones. Small goals should be rewarded, rather than only recognizing the achievement of the ultimate goal. The greatest risk for a long-term change project is not failing at the end, but dropping out at the beginning. It is also important to reward actions, rather than results.
Source 6: Control Your Space
The physical world, such as the design of a home or an office, affects behavior in ways that are often hard to detect. In order to take control of behavior, it is also necessary to take control of space, and redesign it in ways that support new habits. The authors have identified five tactics people can use to reconfigure their environment:
1. Build fences. Creating boundaries can prevent a person from encountering tempting situations. When building fences, there are two rules of thumb to follow. First, the decision to fence off temptations should be made by the person who wants to change. Second, fences should not be used as a substitute for a plan that addresses the six sources of influence. People often rely on fences as their only defense. This can be problematic if individuals do not prepare for a world where those boundaries do not exist.
2. Manage distance. If it is possible to create distance between temptations, it is a good idea to do so. Researchers have found that moving a temptation even a few feet away can have a positive impact on behavior.
3. Change cues. Cues indicate what a person should think about and want. They transform wants into needs. It is possible to create cues that are consistent with the change a person wants to make. One of the best cues is a scorecard which charts a person’s progress toward a goal. However, cues become an invisible part of the environment over time, so it is important to create new cues periodically.
4. Engage the autopilot. Humans have a default bias, which means once a behavior is established people prefer not to change it. To take advantage of this phenomenon, people should set up positive defaults. Once a person is on autopilot with positive behaviors, they are likely to continue.
5. Use tools. Tools like online counters and other tracking systems can help reinforce positive behaviors.