How a vacation — or a pandemic — can help you adopt better habits now

“When our environment changes, our automatic habits are disrupted and we’re more open to change,” writes Kristen Berman. GETTY IMAGES

So how do you change habits?

Imagine someone comes to you and asks you to take shorter showers, walk more (instead of driving), and start recycling. This person lists all the benefits of these environmentally positive behaviors, offers to make the actions easier for you, and gives you a fun goodie bag.

Why does moving move the needle?

Here’s what you most likely think your process of change looks like (also known as the normalized model for behavior change):

  1. I look at the pros and cons of a decision (driving to work vs. taking public transit).
  2. I make a decision in line with my preferences (public transit is better for me).
  3. I have the intent to execute the decision (i.e. I want to and am motivated to take public transit).
  4. I execute (I actually take public transit).

Changing your environment to make healthy habits happen

In 2014, London Tube workers went on strike for 48 hours. During this time, commuters couldn’t take their normal routes — they were forced to use other subway stops to get to work.

3 tips for changing your habits

Here are three tips for making habit-change easy, by focusing on environment rather than willpower.



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Kristen Berman

Kristen Berman

Thinking about Irrationality. Behavioral Scientist. Co-founder of Irrational Labs and Common Cents Lab.