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Behaviour Change

Most behaviours we engage in on a day to day basis are automatic. Our brains have limited decision-making capacity in a given day so automatic behaviours free up space so that we can use that precious brainpower on other things.

Each of those automatic behaviours sits inside of a four stage process:


Even a behaviour as simple as turning on the car is like this. Remember how you had to pause and think about it every time you got in the car? But now, in the blink of an eye, this happens:

Cue- Getting into the car

Craving- Want to be able to drive

Behaviour- Foot on clutch->key in ignition->gearshift in neutral->turn the key

Reward- The sound of the engine coming on

When we are trying to change an old behaviour or develop a new one we don’t often pay attention to these steps. This means we spend hours each day - and valuable brain processing energy - negotiating with ourselves. You know the drill:

“Will i go for a run now? I’ll just read this article first. Ok now I’ll go...Oh but I can’t find my runners...There they are!..What’s that under the dresser?..OK I’m ready to go now...but it’s raining...I’ll go in half an hour...It’s dinner time now, I’ll go later…”


This is why habits are so crucial to behaviour change. This week we are using James Clear’s ideas for how to stop an old habit or start a new one. You can find more information in his website:

Developing a new Habit:

Cue- Make it obvious

Craving- Make it attractive

Behaviour- Make it easy

Reward- Make it satisfying

Stopping an old habit:

Cue- Make it invisible

Craving- Make it unattractive

Behaviour- Make if difficult

Reward- Make it unsatisfying

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