Kristen Berman

Kristen Berman

Episode 59

Change Your Environment, Change Your Life

EP. 59 “We can learn so much about our flaws, our rationalities, our biases, but overcoming them in real time is not possible.”

The personal development industry hinges on the need for us to “change our mindset” so we can create permanent change in our lives.

It’s good advice.

After all, the way we think and the things we believe fuel our decisions and our behaviors.

But change is hard.

If you’ve ever tried to start a business, lose weight, save money (or do anything that’s outside your normal, everyday life), you’ll know how difficult it can be. Everything from resistance, to laziness, to a lack of motivation seem to hold us back.

If only there was an easier way. If only we could ‘hack’ our way to the desirable behaviors that take us closer to our goals…

Turns out there is.

And in this week’s guest, Kristen Berman, shows us how.

Kristen Berman studies how people actually act in the marketplace, as opposed to how they should or would perform if they were completely rational.

Kristen co-founded Irrational Labs, a behavioral product design company, with Dan Ariely in 2013. Irrational Labs helps companies and nonprofits understand and leverage behavioral economics to increase the health, wealth and happiness of their users.

This week’s episode is another doozy 🙂

Whether you’re looking to do something outside your comfort zone or you’re committed to achieving a challenging goal, you NEED to listen in.

And yes, I do say NEED.

We’re not here to settle for less that the things we want.

Instead, we’re here to walk the extraordinary path through life. We’re here to have our cake and eat it too. And thanks to Kristen’s knowledge and strategies, you’ll discover how you really can have it all.

Because as soon as you learn to hack your behaviors and turn on the ones you need at will, you can do anything.

So listen in now. You’ll learn about motivation, how to spark it, and how to use it.

You’ll discover the real reasons we do what we do (hint! It’s not what you think)!

And most importantly, you’ll discover how to leverage your most powerful weapon in your ‘getting it done’ arsenal. But you’ll have to listen in to discover what it is!

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Time Stamped Show Notes

[5:29] Kristen is someone who has a deep passion for understanding why people do what they do. My first question was, of course, about where that stems from?  Early in her career, Kristen worked at a large software company and was in charge of understanding customers. She quickly learned that asking people questions about their desires and preferences is a bit tricky and not always accurate because they aren’t always honest. She noticed that the answers weren’t correlating with the actions and this sparked the question about why we do what we do.

[10:05] We touched on a comparison of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. I wanted to know what the source of intrinsic motivation is, from a behavioral standpoint. Intrinsic rewards being defined as self motivated, without any external factors and extrinsic rewards being external, such as a financial reward. Kristen referenced an argument that intrinsic motivation doesn’t exist, everything is socially or reputationally driven. In speaking to intrinsic motivation, I asked what role our passions play in that? Kristen said that she actually prefers the term curiosity because passion can have an undertone of being heavy and permanent. Curiosity, on the other hand, is a bit more fluid and can represent this open door that you can walk through at anytime.

[15:47]  When you’ve been playing the same story over and over but you want to make a change, what do you do? How do you break out of your comfort zone and push beyond that safety net? Especially when the resistance kicks in. Kristen says that we have to change up our environment. We typically think that our beliefs create our behavior, however, the behavioral science perspective argues the possibility that, for some, behavior creates beliefs. Kristen suggests the following for when you’re feeling stuck:

  1. Identify what’s the behavior that you just do and what is the correct behavior for you to do?
  2. Incorporate habits from work
    1. We can be extremely effective at work, especially when we need to be. We tend to figure out what we need in order to get the task done. What practices can we take from work to apply this in our personal lives? It’s not that we can’t achieve our goals, we  just need to find the things that can make them easier to do.

[24:18] Understanding that our environment is a key influencer, how can you make your environment more appealing so that you can do the things that you want to do? This will help to motivate you, and will help to keep you accountable when you’re not feeling your best. Take the focus off of changing your beliefs and place it on making your environment easier.

[31:23] Motivation can be tricky. Kristen references Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix special,  specifically minutes 52-53, where he references two characters: Night Guy and Morning Guy. Night Guy stays up all night, every night, eating junk food and binging TV. As a result, Morning Guy wakes up exhausted and dragging. Kristen says that we’re really motivated by an immediate benefit, even if it may cost us in the future. Things that aren’t appealing are things in the future – work is in the future and this is why Night Guy is able to push off going to bed. Motivation is highest when the benefit is immediate, emotional and concrete. To hack own motivation, is there something hard that you can pair with an immediate benefit? For example: if you want to read more, can you promise yourself ice cream after reading a chapter or two?

[42:18] What do you do when a motivator isn’t working? How do figure out which instant gratification tools work best and which won’t? Kristen suggests that we take an experimental approach. If you’re curious about yourself, look at your life as an experiment and try different tools to see what fits best. Look at the behavior and, if needed, change it to something that is more achievable and long term. Also,  don’t underestimate the power of community. Bring people into your world and into what you’re wanting to achieve, make yourself more visible, ask them to hold you accountable and for help. It’s also helpful to create more deadlines and to position your habits around a milestone.

[45:34] Kristen stays grounded by maintaining easy access and close proximity to the people whom she adores and admires. Her friends are it!

Kristen Berman