Models for coaching
Four Laws of Behaviour Change
Useful in coaching for
- Background to the Four Laws of Behaviour Change
- Creating good habits – Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Make it Obvious
- Make it Attractive
- Make it Easy
- Make it Satisfying
- How to use the Four Laws of Behaviour Change to make change
- Examples of how to use the Four Laws of Behaviour Change
- Using the Four Laws of Behaviour Change in psychotherapy
- Using the Four Laws of Behaviour Change in coaching
Background to the Four Laws of Behaviour Change
The Four Laws of Behaviour Change are a set of principles that enable us to change our behaviour and develop better habits. These laws are interconnected and guide us to create positive changes in our lives. They are not strict rules, but rather a framework that can be adapted to different situations and individual needs.
The idea behind these laws is that we can change our habits and behaviours by changing our environment and mindset. This is because our environment and mindset play a crucial role in our behaviour. If we change our surroundings and our thinking, we can significantly influence our actions and decisions.
These laws were developed based on research in psychology and neuroscience. They take into account how our brains work and how we make decisions. They are applicable to anyone who wants to change their habits and behaviours, regardless of their age, background, or situation.
Creating good habits – Atomic Habits by James Clear
The concept of the Four Laws of Behaviour Change was popularised by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. Clear explains that habits are the small decisions and actions we perform every day. These small habits compound over time, leading to significant outcomes. Clear suggests that if we change our habits, we can change our lives.
Clear’s first law, “Make it Obvious,” refers to the importance of making our goals and habits visible. By making our intentions clear and keeping reminders in our environment, we can trigger the habits we want to form. This can be as simple as placing a book on our bedside table if we want to read more, or keeping a water bottle on our desk if we want to drink more water.
The second law, “Make it Attractive,” involves linking our new habits with something we find pleasurable or rewarding. This could be pairing a habit we want to develop, like exercising, with something we enjoy, like listening to our favourite podcast.
Make it Obvious
The first Law of Behaviour Change, “Make it Obvious,” is all about making our habits visible and easy to remember. By having clear and visible cues for our habits, we are more likely to follow through with them. For example, if we want to start jogging in the mornings, we could place our running shoes next to our bed as a reminder.
In addition to physical cues, mental cues can also be powerful. This could be setting a specific time for our habit, like meditating every morning after breakfast. By associating our habit with a specific time or event, we create a mental reminder that triggers our habit.
“Making it Obvious” also means making our goals clear and specific. Instead of having a vague goal like “exercise more,” we should have a specific goal like “jog for 30 minutes every morning.” This gives us a clear direction and makes it easier to track our progress.
Make it Attractive
The second Law of Behaviour Change, “Make it Attractive,” is about making our habits appealing and enjoyable. By associating our habits with positive feelings and rewards, we are more likely to stick with them.
One way to make a habit attractive is to tie it to something we enjoy. For example, if we want to start flossing regularly, we could listen to our favourite music while doing it. This turns a mundane task into a more enjoyable experience.
Another strategy is to use a technique called “temptation bundling.” This involves pairing a habit we want to form with a habit we enjoy. For example, if we enjoy watching Netflix, we could only allow ourselves to watch it while exercising on a treadmill. This way, the attractive habit (watching Netflix) encourages the less attractive habit (exercising).
Make it Easy
The third Law of Behaviour Change, “Make it Easy,” is about reducing the effort required to perform our habits. The easier a habit is, the more likely we are to do it. This could mean simplifying the steps involved in a habit, reducing the time it takes, or making the habit more convenient.
For example, if we want to start cooking at home more often, we could meal prep on Sundays to reduce the amount of time and effort required during the week. Or, if we want to start flossing regularly, we could keep our floss next to our toothbrush so it’s easy to remember and convenient to use.
“Making it Easy” also involves starting small. Instead of trying to completely overhaul our lives, we should start with small changes and gradually build up. This allows us to gain momentum and confidence, making it easier to stick with our new habits.
Make it Satisfying
The fourth and final Law of Behaviour Change, “Make it Satisfying,” is about rewarding ourselves when we follow through with our habits. By providing immediate feedback and gratification, we reinforce our habits and make them more likely to stick.
This could be as simple as ticking off a box on a habit tracker each time we complete a habit. Seeing our progress visually can be very satisfying and motivating. Or, it could be treating ourselves to something we enjoy after completing a difficult task.
The key is to make the rewards immediate and relevant. If the reward is too far in the future, it won’t have as much of an impact. And if the reward is not relevant to the habit, it won’t reinforce the habit effectively.
How to use the Four Laws of Behaviour Change to make change
Using the Four Laws of Behaviour Change to make change involves applying these principles to our daily lives. This starts with understanding our current habits and identifying what we want to change.
Once we know what habits we want to form or change, we can start applying the laws. “Make it Obvious” by creating clear and visible cues for our habits. “Make it Attractive” by linking our habits to positive feelings and rewards. “Make it Easy” by reducing the effort required to perform our habits. And “Make it Satisfying” by rewarding ourselves when we follow through with our habits.
It’s important to remember that change takes time and patience. We won’t see results overnight, but if we stick with it, these small changes can compound into significant outcomes.
Examples of how to use the Four Laws of Behaviour Change
Let’s look at some examples of how to use the Four Laws of Behaviour Change in real life. Suppose we want to start reading more. First, we “Make it Obvious” by placing a book on our bedside table, so it’s the first thing we see when we wake up and the last thing we see before we go to bed. We “Make it Attractive” by choosing a book that we’re genuinely interested in. We “Make it Easy” by starting with just one page a day. And we “Make it Satisfying” by tracking our progress and rewarding ourselves with a hot cup of tea after each reading session.
Or suppose we want to start exercising more. We “Make it Obvious” by scheduling our workouts at the same time each day and setting an alarm as a reminder. We “Make it Attractive” by listening to our favourite music or podcast during our workouts. We “Make it Easy” by starting with short workouts and gradually increasing the duration. And we “Make it Satisfying” by tracking our progress and rewarding ourselves with a healthy post-workout snack.
Using the Four Laws of Behaviour Change in psychotherapy
The Four Laws of Behaviour Change can also be used in psychotherapy to help clients change their behaviours and develop healthier habits. By understanding these principles, therapists can guide their clients towards positive change.
For example, a therapist could help a client “Make it Obvious” by assisting them in identifying triggers for unhealthy behaviours and creating cues for healthier alternatives. They could help them “Make it Attractive” by exploring what rewards and positive feelings the client could associate with the new behaviour. They could help them “Make it Easy” by breaking down the new behaviour into manageable steps. And they could help them “Make it Satisfying” by encouraging the client to reward themselves when they follow through with the behaviour.
These principles can be used in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, to provide a comprehensive approach to behaviour change.
Using the Four Laws of Behaviour Change in coaching
In coaching, the Four Laws of Behaviour Change can provide a valuable framework for helping clients reach their goals. By understanding these laws, coaches can guide their clients towards forming productive habits and eliminating unproductive ones.
For example, a coach could help a client “Make it Obvious” by assisting them in setting clear and specific goals. They could help them “Make it Attractive” by linking the new habit to a client’s values or interests. They could help them “Make it Easy” by identifying obstacles and finding ways to overcome them. And they could help them “Make it Satisfying” by helping the client identify ways to reward themselves for progress.
These laws can be applied in various coaching contexts, from personal development coaching to business coaching. They provide a practical and flexible approach to behaviour change that can be tailored to each client’s individual needs and goals.
In conclusion, the Four Laws of Behaviour Change are a powerful set of principles that can guide us towards positive change. By making our habits obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying, we can change our behaviour and lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives.
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