A journey towards a healthy and happy You

5 Nudges to Help You Toward a Healthier Lifestyle V

By: Femi Agbaje-Williams January 11th, 2017

Ever planned a morning run you ended up skipping? Here’s the fifth and final nudge about how to simplify the journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

As noted in previous posts, when making a decision, you subconsciously weigh pros and cons – sometimes with a result that isn’t in line with your long-term goals. In fact, because making decisions costs your brain energy and time, you have a human tendency to avoid making decisions and just maintain the status quo. You tend to operate by default and make decisions that – in the moment – are more convenient. This is why, if there are many decisions you have to make in order do something you wish to do that is good, there’s a risk you lose battles against what your brain judges in the moment as “more important stuff”.

Here’s an example: suppose you have the following range of decisions to make when getting out of bed for a morning run: get out of bed, eat breakfast, check the weather outside, find what to wear, look for running socks, look for your headphones, choose running music, choose where to run, choose how long to run for and so on….You probably get the picture. That’s a whole lot of decisions for your reptilian brain to handle, and there is a high risk that you follow your instinct and hit the snooze button, postponing the running activity. Especially as you are more influenced by your “automatic system” when tired and are thereby more inclined to maintain status quo. There is hope though. By mapping out these decisions you can minimize them and nudge yourself towards a healthier lifestyle.

Nudge nr. #5 – Minimize decisions that stand in the way of you’re trying to do
If you look at all the supposed decisions mentioned above again, there are definitely some you can get done easily when your mind is clearer. You could, for instance, check the weather forecast, prepare your outfit and put it next to your bed, find the things you need etc. the day before. This means fewer unwanted brain battles, significantly increasing your chances of doing your planned activity.

Task: First, ask yourself what decision do you want to make (e.g. running before breakfast, eat a healthy lunch etc). After that, map out all the decisions you’d need to make (be specific) in order to make what you’re trying to do happen. Can you remove/move/reduce any of the decisions to clear the path?

This concludes the series on 5 Nudges To Help You Toward A Healthier Lifestyle. If you apply these nudging tips and tasks in your way of life, you’ll hopefully see how small changes in the environment of your everyday choices can have large impact on your journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

Here’s a little summary of the nudging tips and tasks you’ve learned:

Nudge nr #1. Replace your food: Make healthy food more available and visible than unhealthy food.
Nudge nr #2. Size matters: Change the size of your plates and glasses, go smaller if you want to reduce your consumption, and larger if you want to increase it.
Nudge nr #3. Substitute short-term rewards: Make sure to directly reward good behavior.
Nudge nr #4. The power of social norms: Schedule your workouts with friends.
Nudge nr #5. Minimize decisions that stand in the way of what you’re trying to do: Map out your decisions to stop multiple decisions getting in the way of what you’re trying to do.

Good luck & nudge for good!

By Linda Lindström, Behavior strategist & Co-founder
Beteendelabbet (The Swedish Behavior Lab)

RELATED: 5 Nudges to Help You Toward a Healthier Lifestyle IV


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