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6 fundamental elements of actually changing behaviors

changing behaviors

Changing behaviors is difficult, and breaking bad habits or starting new ones can be a daunting task, but there are some fundamental elements in common with changing any behavior.

changing behaviors

Changing behaviors is possible

You want to get to and stay at inbox zero, you want to quit smoking, you want to make X number of cold calls every day, you want to stop ignoring your phone when it rings, you want to stop interrupting people, or start giving constructive feedback instead of always being agreeable. We all have a behavior we want to change to better our chances of success, and while changing behaviors is possible, it sure is tough.

Jason Shen has studied (obsessed?) over the topic of changing behaviors for years, and he writes on his blog1, “I’ve read a ton of material about creating positive behavior change — but the “curse of knowledge” means that sometimes it’s harder to impart that knowledge to others. I often get caught up in describing a specific paper or study, when you really need is just a tactic that really works.”

Shen has outlined what he has found to be the six fundamental elements of changing behaviors, stating that “I know you’ll see a lot more success in your efforts to work out more, eat healthier, be more mindful, wake up earlier or whatever it is you’re trying to do.”

What is it that you’re trying to change? Shen’s research reveals the following six fundamental elements to be consistent across the board, regardless of the change someone is trying to make:

  1. Tracking behavior
  2. Triggers and reminders
  3. Specific actions
  4. Rewards Setting
  5. Targets
  6. Review and recommit

More detail on changing behaviors

To get you started on your path toward change, consider the following famous quotes as you begin your next steps:

  • “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb
  • “It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.” -Bob Proctor
  • “Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” -Bikram Choudhury.
  • “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” -Andre Gide
  • “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” -Wayne Gretzy
  • “May the bridges I burn light the way.” -Unknown
  • “In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” -Warren Buffett
  • “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” –Life’s Little Instruction Book

1 The Six Fundamental Elements of Effective Behavior Change

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