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A Guide to Using Behavioral Design: Tweaking Your Environment for Change Part 2

Three tenets of environmental support for change and development

There’s no doubt that our environment plays a huge role in our lives behind the scenes. It shapes who we are, what we do, and how we behave. But most of us don’t realize the extent to which our environment can be used to support change and development. By making a few simple tweaks to your surroundings, you can make it a lot easier to stick to your goals and live your best life! Let’s take a look at some easy ways to use behavioral design to support your efforts to live your best life. The environment can make an uphill climb even harder, or can even keep us so stuck the first step seems impossible, or, conversely, set the stage for success. But how? Most of the time, the environment isn’t knocking on the door of your rational mind so say “Hey. Come over here and actively choose this crap option.” No. Rather, environmental influences have subconscious impacts we might not even notice. For example, our choices often put us on the path of least resistance, i.e. thwart change or favor the status quo. Not only does our environment light that path but it pushes us in that direction. We often focus on our willpower and inner resolve when it comes to behavior change. We can think of that as an inside –> out approach. However, if we want to make lasting change, we also need to leverage an outside –> in strategy. That is to say, it’s important to be mindful of the small actions to adjust our surroundings to better support us. Our behavior has an impact on our environment. That’s right. What we do can make our environment more or less supportive by, say, bringing focus to our intentions. With a little effort, we can create an environment that will help us achieve our goals and dreams!

Make the Environment an ally

Let’s take a look at three key environmental factors and what they mean for living our best life:

  • Physical environment
  • Social environment
  • Knowledge environment

Physical environment

First, think about your physical environment. Can you make it easier for yourself to pay attention to the action you want to take? Are there any distractions or obstacles in the way? Can you make the first steps easy and effortless?

Social environment

Next, consider how your social environment can help or hinder your progress. Do you have the support you need from your friends and family? Does being around them help or hinder your progress? Are there other connections or online communities that fuel your efforts?

Knowledge environment

Finally, check in on your knowledge environment. What ideas are inspiring? Are you exploring information that nourishes your thoughts and helps you see connections? What promotes depth and clarity of thought or facilitates great decisions? How does the information you consume make you feel about yourself and what’s possible for you?

By taking a look at these three different areas, you can better shape your environment to support your goals and strengthen your connection with yourself. And that will help you achieve the life you want to live!

The character of the architectural forms and spaces which all people habitually encounter are powerful agencies in determining the nature of their thoughts, their emotions and their actions, however unconscious of this they may be.


In summary, behavioral design is a powerful, easy to use  tool that you have use in your day-to-day life. In the first part of this series, we explored 5 aspects of behavioral design: Attention, perception, emotion, behavior, and integration. For example, we touched upon using cues and engaging emotions that energize your efforts.

Here in the 2nd part of the series, we explored how our environment and circumstances can be leveraged to support behavior change. Specifically, we looked at 3 elements of the environment that can promote success: physical, social, and knowledge. By leveraging our environment, we can make it a lot easier to live the life you want to live!

Next time you seek personal development or want to begin a practice that brings you closer to your authentic self, add what you’ve learned about here to your efforts. Think of behavioral design as a powerful tool you can use to change your life for the better. There are many small things you can do to shape and support your desired behaviors without having to change your entire life around. Now you know some simple ways you can alter your environment with minimal effort that will lead to major changes in the long run!

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