Action Triggers: Preload the decision    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard  Chip and Dan Heath

What is the problem?  We all gravitate unconsciously toward easy or comfortable activities.  Priority tasks stay undone.

You can design your environment to improve your success.  The physical environment around you can help support your success.  Does the room you work in support of your success. How about the clothes you have on, or your appearance, do they inspire or support you?  These are physical components of your environment.

There are mental aspects of designing your environment.  An action trigger is one way to increase your success rate.  An action trigger is just a mental decision To do a task when a trigger in your environment happens.  Imagine you are in college and you have a term paper due in two months.  The hard part is always getting started.  Rather than put it off and increase the chances of failure you could set up an action trigger mentally.  Tonight right after you eat supper,  you will set down at the desk open your computer, and outline your paper.   You are making a mental picture of a specific action you will carry out.  There is the physical environment aspect (trigger) of eating and finishing supper.  You have mentally pictured yourself sitting at your computer creating the outline after you finish eating.


An action trigger is much more successful when you have made a specific mental picture of yourself performing that action when you get to that trigger.  You pass the success to the environment you create. When you preload a decision in our mind and the physical environment triggers the action it will increase greatly the success of carrying out the task.

Examples of action trigger with both mental and physical environmental tweaks.

Preload decision.  Tomorrow morning when I first open my phone I will text note to a specific client making a connection with them.  The action trigger is opening the phone. You can create physical environmental cues but adding the mental preloaded decision and describing to your self how you will carry it out increases the success rate.

Preload decision:  You want your employee to give you short notes on sales follow-ups.   Action Trigger:  Ask them to give you a specific note when and how they will carry this out.

Preload Decision:  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night I lay out my walking clothes and set my alarm early.  I mentally see myself walking Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, and have set up the environment to succeed.

Planners like Franklin and Google calendar help organize us to preload decisions and create a specific date and time to act.

Have fun with it.  What will be your Action Trigger for successfully preloading a decision to carry out a task?