Aspire to ChangeAuthor : Strive Health
Lifestyle changes are difficult! To accomplish change on this level, understanding behavioral design is a good place to start. Behavioral design refers to how people think and make decisions. By tapping into how we make decisions, we can systematically make changes. But this requires understanding the definitions of aspirations, outcomes and behaviors.
Aspirations are abstract desires, like “I want my boys to be successful in their schooling.” Outcomes are measurable, like getting straight As within a semester. A behavior is something you can do right now or at another point in time. You can eat a vegetable at a meal. You can go for a walk. You can turn off your screen. These are actions you can do at any given moment. You can’t achieve an aspiration or outcome at any given moment. You can’t lose 10 pounds at dinner tonight.
“You can only achieve aspirations and outcomes over time IF you execute the right specific behaviors.”1
What behavior are you trying to change? In the book, “Tiny Habits,” the author talks about a major bank creating a savings initiative. The project leader stated they asked their customers to save $500 for emergencies. Notice, this is an outcome, not a behavior. The team eventually went to work to focus on finding specific behaviors that their customers could do in order to create an emergency fund, such as “Empty your pocket change into an emergency-fund jar every evening or have a garage sale and put all of the revenue into an emergency fund.”2 The bank leaders realized that motivation was not the missing piece of their puzzle. Rather, they needed to meet their customers with easy and effective behaviors that were specific.
Sometimes we need to focus less on the “why” and more on the “how to.” Some steps in behavior design to help meet our dream or aspiration are:
1). Clarify Your Aspiration: What do you want? What result are you hoping to achieve? Write this down. If you wrote down “lose weight,” ask yourself, “Is that really what I want?” Is it that you want to lose weight, or do you want to feel better or control a chronic disease? Or maybe there is a hobby (like skiing or snowboarding) you’d like to start but you are currently out of shape. Getting a clear idea of your aspiration will allow you to work toward what it is you really are desiring.
2). Explore Behavior Options: By selecting one of your aspirations, you can then develop a list of specific behaviors that will help you achieve your aspiration. In this step, you are exploring your options. While creating the list, write down as many options as you can. The more options, the better. If you run out of ideas, ask friends or family, or look on Pinterest! Remember that being consistent is key, and when we have a plan mapped out, we are more likely to meet our outcome. Take a look at this link for free videos from Tiny Habits on building better habits in relationships, career and even working at home. Best wishes on your endeavor toward whatever your dream may be!
1, 2 “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything,” BJ Fogg, 2020.