Choice Architecture

Choice Architecture

Motivation, Inspiration and positive self-talk all have their place and I am a firm believer in their role in assisting us through the confusion and chaos that is inevitable when living, operating and comparing ourselves to others in our daily lives. One of the greatest assets we can create, (an asset defined as something that provides for us not a liability one that takes from us), is our environment. If we can take responsibility for the design of our surroundings, our interactions, our points for decision making then suddenly things you never thought of, become possible. Something you have longed for and wanted may be within our grasp that doesn’t rely on other people because we have a process in place, we have engineered our environment to execute the plan. Let’s take a closer look…

The kitchen, the fridge and the pantry.

The kitchen is the home of food and prep, the foundation for good or the temptress of evil right! We can be a saint or we can be a glutton. The fridge is usually the first port of call in the pursuit of something delicious, the weird thing I find is that all the best foods for us end up in the crisper out of sight and out of mind and lets be honest by the time the rest of the food has been eaten then we finally go there when its contents are anything but crisp, I call it the flopper! Some dehydrated, lifeless celery anyone??

There was a really prominent study in the 2000’s that is often referred to among colleagues, they looked at a workplace where food was made available to employees in a kitchen style environment. Imagine a 24/7 hub that was stocked for employees to have 3 daily meals and snacks in between (i know, sign me up right). The study never changed any items in the kitchen but manipulated their placement within the kitchen. They placed all soft drinks at the bottom of the fridge away from eye level and put the water from the bottom of the fridge to the eye level shelf. We eat with our eyes remember, that’s why the eye level shelf is where the war begins in our supermarkets! Maybe there is an advantage to be shorter than average height after all! Anyway, I digress, back to work… they placed all the ‘ready made snack’ options such as biscuits, chocolate and chips into solid white tubs while placing fruit into transparent tubs. The numbers stacked up…. firstly they reduced the consumption of soft drink by over 10% and those nasty ‘ready-made snacks’ by more than a quarter. Why… people had to consciously go out of their way to perform what had become an automatic behaviour, suddenly it required thought, they made the unconcious, conscious and that meant people no longer consumed as much. Think about how hard it is to smoke in Australia now compared to the 90’s…. you have to practical perform a 400m relay with a lighter in hand and a winnie blue behind your ear, takes some determination right!

In your home or workplace right now there would be several opportunities for you to design the way you want to, toward your goal. Using your imagination think about daily life at the goal your chasing? What does it look like?

What does your fridge look like?

What would your pantry look like?

What would your bedroom look like?

One young mum I work with made a blanket rule, no more eating in the car! On her way home from work it had become automatic to smack down a packet or 2 of salt and vinegar chips. If you think about this for a second; for a young mum, her car may be the only time she really gets to herself, running herself between work and home from the chaos to the chaos, it made a lot of sense that this was her time to just zone out from her ‘being on’. So, we set her a challenge, no more eating but you have to dance and sing your way home in the car, music was her outlet she loved Taylor Swift so every afternoon instead of getting a dry mouth from salt and vinegar she would have a Taylor Swift concert in her car. We made a daily KPI for her to tell me how many funny looks she got at traffic lights… the results were phenomenal, not only did she feel more energised, after 2 weeks she hadn’t had a single packet of chips.

next steps… maybe have a think about your opportunity points and automatic behaviours and if you see a chick at the traffic lights ‘shakin it off’… cut the sister some slack!

Yours in health

Sean Cornish

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