Starter Steps for Long Term Behavior Change

Posted by Bill Beard

May 25, 2012

Last week I attended Mobile Health 2012, with a focus on “Baby Steps for Big Results.” The idea being there’s power in "baby steps" done quickly, for long term behavior change. Hosted by Stanford U’s Persuasive Technology Lab, this year’s keynote speaker was Weight Watchers CEO and ManMeetScale blogger David Kirchhoff.

David took the opportunity to speak of his personal struggles with weight loss and the dreaded word “maintenance.” He shared one of his own baby steps for keeping the weight off when confronted with temptation…he tweets. For example, @dkirchhoff “On a flight back from St. Louis. Just turned down another warm cookie. It's the little victories...” There’s something about publicly declaring your weakness and celebrating your win.

So what’s this got to do with TheLadders? And why did we attend a mobile health conference? It’s a good question. What I told attendees is that there’s synergy between the trials and tribulations of health and wellness behavior changes and job search behavior changes. What do I mean by this? In my role as a product leader at TheLadders, I witness countless job-seekers struggling with adopting best practices for a faster, more meaningful and more prosperous job search simply because the tasks at hand appear daunting, or they are overloaded with irrelevant jobs and action-less info.

At the heart of the conference…Baby Steps! (Actually, I find this term a little off putting so I’m going to call it “Starter Steps” to steal from Tim Chang of Mayfield Fund, a conference panelist. Starter Steps translate into BJ Fogg’s new program “3 Tiny Habits” as a way to create new behaviors – in health, or in our case, the job search. Fogg states only three things will change behavior in the long term:

Option A. Have an epiphany
Option B. Change your context (what surrounds you)
Option C. Take baby steps

Unless you’ve ever spotted a unicorn, forget about the epiphany – it’s too difficult. Instead, focus on changing your context and taking starter steps. These two options are practical and can lead to lasting change if you’re following the right program. Fogg warns that few winning programs exist – luckily TheLadders, like Weight Watchers, is one of them, in my opinion.

You should join a future session of Fogg’s Three Tiny Habits to try starter steps for yourself, and while you’re at it, check out Stanford’s Top 10 Mistakes in Behavior Change.

For more from the audience and participants of Mobile Health 2012, check out the #mh2012 Twitter stream.

Chantal Botana is Director of Consumer Product Development at TheLadders. She’s a pragmatic leader whose mantra is “Insight, creativity & innovation are what make good products great.” She’s #lean and #agile, and a Real Madridista.



Topics: #TheLaddersLife, In the News