10 Mistakes In Behaviour Change, By Stanford University, Part II

So in last week’s article, we learnt the first 5 mistakes we make when changing behaviours and habits, courtesy of the Persuasive Tech Lab from the University of Stanford. Today, I tackle the next 5 mistakes. I hope this article is as beneficial to you as it has been for me!


Mistake #6: Underestimating The Power Of Triggers

What is a trigger? A trigger is what instigates a behaviour, like when someone pushes you, you immediately become irritated. That act of pushing you was a trigger. How about when you are walking down the street and you smell the most delicious cookies! Is that not a significant trigger for you to want to walk into the shop and see what they have?

As human beings, our senses are triggers. Hearing a hurtful comment, smelling something delicious, looking at explicit content, feeling good after tasting and downing several alcoholic drinks, etc. All of these can easily lead to addictive behaviours. So it is important to be aware of the things in your life right now that trigger the behaviours you do not like.


Mistake #7: Believing That Information Leads To Action

This comes from the premise that sometimes you can read all the motivational books and videos you want, but simply having the knowledge, does not mean you will act on it. I believe there has got to be more of a compelling and emotionally driven reason for us to actually start taking action. My recommendation though, is that it is better to feed on what inspires you than what wastes your time and energy, because eventually, when you do something for long enough it becomes a habit. Information is simply the first step to enlightenment!


Mistake # 8: Focusing on Abstract Goals More Than Concrete Behaviours

Which statement do you believe in more: “I want to be fit” or “I will start walking for half an hour, 3 days a week in order to get fitter?” Isn’t the last one more actionable? So what is the moral of the story here? Forget about those ambiguous goals you make. The most important thing about goals is: you must be able to see them, and count them. Everything else is an exercise in futility!


Mistake #9: Seeking To Change A Behaviour Forever, Not For A Short Time

A recovering alcoholic will tell you that he takes his recovery process one step at a time, one day at a time, which is something I recommend for us all who are changing unwanted behaviours. If you complete today having implemented and kept at your new behaviour, that is victory! Mark it on a calendar, and tell yourself, “I did it today. I can do it tomorrow as well” and leave it at that. Do not heap yourself with too much pressure! Start small, and start one day at a time!


Mistake #10: Assuming That Behaviour Change Is Difficult

Well, many behaviours are, in fact, difficult to change, but just as many are not! It is not difficult for you to decide to floss your teeth after brushing them, especially when you consciously put the floss right next to your toothbrush, is it? Adapting new small habits into your life actually encourages you. You now see that you can do it, and you start to challenge yourself on bigger behavioural/habit changes. So I would advise you to start small, and to build from there. There is no race to be won!

Change is much simpler than we think. It takes discipline, but when implemented well, can be a complete game changer!

So this concludes this 2 part article. If you feel that this can benefit others in your life, go ahead and share this article using the links below.