Triggers: Use Design To Change Your Habits Triggers: Use Design To Change Your Habits
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Triggers: Use Design To Change Your Habits

by Andrew Shea

January 13, 2014

No magic formula can lead to behavioral change, but we do know that many problems start as individual actions. These actions often form habits, which are reinforced by a myriad of seemingly-harmless factors which make up a habit loop. 

"Habit Loop" isn’t our term. It’s one that we borrowed from Charles Duhigg, who wrote The Power of Habit. These loops consist of a cue, a routine, and a reward. Duhigg thoroughly explains these in his book and uses them to illustrate how we might manipulate our habits as individuals, organizations, and as societies.

  • Cues are the factors that trigger our habits: particular locations, times, emotional states, other people, or an action that immediately precedes the habit.
  • Routines are the behaviors you want to change.
  • Rewards satisfy the cravings that drive our behaviors. 

As children we live with and depend on our mothers to teach us how to navigate daily life. Soon enough, however, we grow up and move away; our routine interactions fade. How can we maintain a meaningful relationship with our long-distance moms? Amanda Sepanski and Kristen Myers created a diary log that helps you document your conversations with your mom, so that you remember why you should keep calling.

Read about all of the projects, check out the designs, and download some of the toolkits to change some of your own habits. What habits would you start with?

Andrew Shea More Info

Andrew Shea is the founder and principal at MANY, a communication design studio focused on creating positive social, environmental, and economic impact. He is the author of “Designing for Social Change: Strategies for Community-Based Design”, and he teaches design at Parsons, Pratt, and City University of New York.
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Triggers: Use Design To Change Your Habits