You may think that making a long-lasting change, such as eating better or exercising often, is a matter of staying motivated and inspired. But scientific data say otherwise.
Motivation and inspiration “are temporary feelings,” says Sean Young, PhD, executive director of the University of California Institute for Prediction Technology (UCIPT). “We’ve been taught to think that if we’re not able to stick with good habits, we’re flawed or we don’t have enough willpower. But this isn’t what science says.”
A two-step process
According to Dr. Young, rather than focusing on the type of person you are, you need to apply a two-step process to changing your behavior.
This process requires you to:
1) Identify whether the behavior you want to change is A) automatic, B) burning or C) common.
2) Apply the correct strategies or “forces” to help you change and stick with the behavior. “I call them forces because we’re aware of physical forces that move an object, but there are also behavioral forces that move people,” explains Dr. Young.
Seven forces to help change your behavior
These forces are rooted in scientific research, says Dr. Young, who uses the acronym S.C.I.E.N.C.E. to describe them:
Which forces to apply to various behaviors
Easy and engrained forces are the most useful for changing automatic behaviors, says Dr. Young, followed by neurohacks and captivating rewards.
For burning behaviors, easy and engrained are the two most beneficial forces, followed by neurohacks and captivating rewards. The remaining forces may also be valuable, he says.
Community is the most effective force for changing a common behavior. Stepladders, important, easy, captivating rewards and engrained may also help you make a change. Neurohacks tend to be the least useful in this category.
To learn more about how Dr. Young is applying this approach to improving health, visit the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior.
Tags: behavior, behavior change, behavioral health, captivating rewards, digital behavior, health, Healthy Living, lasting change, neurohacks, reinforcing behavior, sean young phd, UCLA Center for Digital Behavior, Wellness