Struggling to stay motivated? Use the ‘nudge theory’ to tweak your environment and smash your gym and diet goals.
Also called ‘automaticity’ or goal priming, the nudge theory is about little changes that essentially trick you into achieving your goals.
“Rather than trying to overtly change people’s behaviour, the idea is to subtly direct people down a particular path by tweaking their environment,” says health psychology researcher Dr Nicola Davies.
How does it work?
“This works by tapping into our two ways of thinking: automatic and reflective.” Automatic thoughts are those you fall into habitually and action without much hesitation, like hitting the snooze button, whereas reflective thoughts relies on a conscious effort to do things differently. “Nudging is about making the healthier option easier to execute than the less healthy one so that eventually the new way becomes automatic,” Davies says.
How to do it:
A nudge can be “anything that influences our choices”. Like laying out your gym clothes the night before, putting your runners by the front door, or putting the vegies on the middle shelf.
Priming your goals is about changing your environment so that it not only influences our choices, but also limits them.
One Stanford University study found that the more we clutter the mind, the less likely we are to make reflective choices.
In the study, researchers found that students asked to remember a seven-digit number were twice as likely to choose cake than peers asked to remember a two-digit number when presented with cake or fruit salad. If five extra bits of information are all it takes to make our willpower crumble, how do you think it’s going to stand up to locating your gym pants in the laundry at 6am?
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