Nudging

Nudging

If you are reading this, it means you have chosen to be a part of the Matt Roberts community and that you, along with many others, value and prioritise your health and fitness. You may not realise this but the steps you have taken to be a part of this community are actually quite a big deal.

You see, for many people making the conscious decision to join a gym takes a certain amount of intentional effort and it means making a shift in their priorities and committing to a host of new behaviours. For example, they first need to schedule the training sessions, then they may need to get up an hour earlier, they may need to make sure they have gym kit, they may also need to make travel arrangements to get the gym. When you add up all the small things that pop up when someone wants to make a positive change in their life it’s not surprising that so many people find it a struggle.

From this perspective being more health conscious can often seem like its more trouble than its worth. Deciding to “get fit and eat healthy” sounds simple at first but it’s not long before a sea of new behaviours and decisions come flooding our way that soon our old way of life begins to seem a lot less troublesome and effortful. On one hand, unfortunately, this is the reality of making change as braking old habits and building new ones will inevitably present its struggles. However, on the other hand, it doesn’t have to be hard work all the time and there are some simple things people can do to make the road to a healthier lifestyle a little less bumpy.

In the book Neuroscience for Coaches, author Amy Brann discusses the notion of choice architecture which is essentially the process of affecting outcomes by influencing decisions. Typically, this is done by presenting choices in a particular way through making changes to environment within which someone exists.

One tool that is used under the umbrella of choice architecture is known as “nudging” which can be described as getting people to make decisions based on how their options are presented.  Brann uses the example of Bugis MRT station in Singapore as a great illustration of nudging at work. The stairs in the station are brightly coloured and say “I want to climb the stairs to fitness” while the escalators next to the stairs sit still and quiet until someone uses them. The choice to use the escalators is still there but the result is that many people choose to take the stairs.

With this type of thing in mind there are many ways we can influence our environment to help make the shift to a healthier lifestyle less difficult. The idea is to bypass the cognitive system and sidestep any issues with reactance and attitude. If you manipulate your environment in the right way you can communicate directly with the systems that control behaviour thus reducing the need for will power and persuasion.

One of the easiest environments to manipulate is that of your own home. Here are some simple examples of nudges you could try:

  • Eat from smaller plates to keep portion sizes under control
  • Keep the kitchen surfaces clear of unhealthy snacks and have a bowl of fruit out instead
  • Keep healthy foods as the first thing you see when you open cupboards and the fridge
  • Use bigger glasses for water and smaller ones for alcohol and juices

For more ideas have a look at the website www.inudgeyou.com.

By being part of the Matt Roberts community you have already made some great strides towards a healthier way of life. Why not see if you can find one small way to shape your world to make that journey a little easier.