Sunday, January 22, 2017

To change your behavior, change your environs.

How are your resolutions going?

Well, I hope. But changing behavior is hard. There are all sorts of pitfalls. One I heard a psychologist talk about was the rebel-against-the-grownup syndrome. When I am telling me not to eat that donut (or "doughnut" if you prefer), I am the grownup bossing me around . . . and who likes to be told what to do?

Lately in my corner of the blogosphere I've been encountering more and more the idea of "Systems, Not Goals."

The big, early proponent seems to have been Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, and wide-ranging thinker. His blog is HERE; I think you'll really enjoy it. He writes often about what psychology and brain science teach us about real behavior and how to affect it. The idea is not to set goals, but to set up systems and habits so that if you will follow them, good things will happen. Instead of setting a goal you might miss and then feel bad about yourself, set up systems and make them easy or even fun to follow.

I've recently come into contact with another thinker/blogger gaining steam, James Clear, who also writes about how to get ourselves into good habits, based on psychology and neuroscience.

His very simply-designed blog (simplicity is one of his keys) is HERE. That'll link you to a specific post about how our environs help or hinder behavior. Like choosing a gym that is on the commute home, rather than even five minutes the other way. Or buying smaller plates so you eat less. 22% less! on 10-inch plates as opposed to 12-inch.

I got to thinking about my classroom. The environment is constantly giving us cues about what to do. And it makes some behaviors easier and some harder.

I know if I go move a crate of journals off the windowsill and set it near my desk so that I have to walk around it I am more likely to grade them. I've had a student and a custodian with ADD thank me  for having a relatively uncluttered, non-busy classroom. At least for them, it facilitated focusing.

How can you structure your environs, whether kitchen, bathroom, office, classroom, so that it promotes behavior you want to see more of? In yourself or in others?

Be well!