Every year during the holidays, I “adopt” a needy family with a group of people that I work out with. A local non-profit organization runs this “Holiday Sharing” program. My group is one of many that chips in to support families in our area that are struggling.
In the past, I would encourage members of my group to pick up gifts for the family and drop them off to me. Then, I would bring the gifts to our “adopted” family after everything had been collected.
The last two years (during the COVID-19 pandemic), the non-profit asked us to collect gift cards, rather than gifts. So, I gave my group two options for contributing. The first option was similar to years past. You could pick up a gift card on your own and bring it to me. The second option was new. You could send me money through Venmo, an app that lets friends receive and send money online. Then, I would take all the money received through Venmo and purchase a batch of gift cards for our group.
Guess what has happened by adding the second option to our fundraiser collection. We collected even more money than in prior years. In addition, over 80% of our contributors sent me money through Venmo, rather than getting a gift card on their own and delivering it to me in-person.
There is a simple reason why option #2 was so much more popular: it was much easier and required fewer steps and less effort. With option #1, you needed to go to a store and buy a gift card. Then, you needed to bring that gift card to me. In total, this option required at least thirty minutes of your time. Plus, you needed to remember to pick up the gift card, and you needed to remember to give it to me.
With Option #2, you simply needed to click a few buttons on your phone, and you were done. This option required less than 30 seconds of your time, and there was nothing else to remember or do.
Whenever you want to encourage a specific behavior (by yourself or a friend, family member, employee, etc.), ask yourself how you can make it as simple as possible to perform your desired action. Identify every possible obstacle that could get in the way. Then, reduce the size of those obstacles or remove them completely, if possible. You will be much more likely to get the outcome that you desire.
There is another lesson here as well. If you want to prevent yourself or someone else from taking a specific action, make it as difficult as possible to perform that action. Add as many barriers to that behavior as possible, and you or they will be much less likely to do it.
Don’t leave a behavior to chance or to willpower. Remove or add obstacles to the behavior in question, and you will get your desired outcome more naturally.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is the Creator of StrongerHabits.com. He is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, executive recruiter, athlete, and peak performance coach. His work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and CNNMoney.com, and over 500,000 people across the world have read his articles.