Behaviour Design is all about Tiny Habits

What seemed like a lifetime ago when I went to Indigo to find some inspiration from my daily routine. What a luxury now thinking back on it. I came across this book that had a bright yellow sleeve that said “This book will change your life (happy face). I bought it instantly. It was a book about Behaviour Design. As a design strategist, this was right up my alley. I have studied, interior, urban, systems, and service design but behaviour design was a new concept.

In BJ Todd’s book Tiny Habits, he gives you a systemic and proven approach to change your life. One small habit at a time. As we move from complete lock down to a slow reopening around the world, this book might give some insight as ways we personally can adapt and change our approaches to getting back to “normal” or positively affecting those so the change we are about to face isn’t as drastic as it seems and is manageable. 

The overarching rule for changing behaviour can be captured in the acronym KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid. Many times, individuals take drastic actions to change you life. Rome wasn’t built in a day and changing your behaviour is also a process. Everyone knows of taking baby steps. This is the key concept in Behaviour Design.

There are 3 steps to Behaviour Design

Step 1: Clarify the Aspiration

What do you want? What is your dream? What result you want to achieve?

Step 2: Explore Behaviour Options

After you have selected one of your aspirations, come up with a bunch os specific behaviours that can help you achieve your aspiration. The best way of approaching this is creating a mind map with no limits on how to achieve it. Brainstorm as if anything is possible.

Step 3: Match with Specific Behaviours

Now it’s time to get practical, what type of change do you want to make? Here you will match yourself with specific behaviours using a systematic approach called Golden Behaviours, which has three criteria.

– The behaviour is effective in realizing your aspiration (impact)

– You want to do the behaviour (motivation)

– You can do the behaviour (ability) 

The best way of discovering your Golden Behaviours is to use a matrix.  

On the top of the Y axis you plot High-Impact Behaviours – Very effective at helping you achieve your aspiration. At the bottom you plot Low-Impact Behaviours – Not effective at helping you achieve your aspiration.

On the X axis to the left plot, NO – I can’t get myself to do this behaviour. On the right plot, YES – I can’t get myself to do this behaviour.  

Take all the behaviours you brainstormed in your mind map put them where you think they fit on the matrix. The behaviours located in the top right corner are your Golden Behaviours that will help you achieve your aspiration.

Step 4: Start Tiny

Now, break down that entire behaviour into a series of small steps. For example, of your aspiration was to loose weight, and your behaviour was to run 20 minutes a day. The first small step in that series would be to put your shoes on. Easy right? Next, it might be to walk around the block. Next, it might be walking 3 block, etc. Eventually you will get to running 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes until you are running 20 minutes a day. 

Remember everything is a process. Nothing will happen overnight but if you take a systematic approach and break it down into very simple steps anything is possible.

Richelle Sibolboro
Richelle Sibolboro

Design strategist and content creator for hire with a passion for arts and culture specifically in design, architecture, and travel. She has produced content for designboom, Azure magazine, Open City Projects, Digifest, and World Design Weeks. Follow her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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