Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Know What's Nudging You? Know What's Nudging You!

In last Sunday's New York Times Business section, there was an article on the power of nudging.  
Nudging builds on a series of trials to see what 'it' is that gets people 
inspired to change what they're doing or to do something new. 
The article sighted nudging to inspire people to job hunt, to pay taxes and to get their attics insulated, actions that promote individual and community prosperity. For job seekers, it, the nudge, is journaling about one's feelings of being unemployed, or whatever else comes up around job hunting. To get people to pay taxes, the nudge is messaging about how others in the community are paying their share. In trying to get people to insulate their attics, researches were surprised to find that financial incentives didn't work. However, providing a service to help clean up accumulated messes in people's attics was just the nudge needed. The results of such nudges --versus those who didn't receive nudges: jobs were found more quickly, more people paid their taxes (and on time) and there were communities of homeowners' whose cleaned and insulated attics resulted in significant reductions in their heating bills. 
Flipping through the Pink section of the SF Chronicle, I came upon the horoscope page. Mine (Capricorn) read something like: You will enjoy shopping this holiday season. As it turned out, I was planning to go shopping that afternoon. And, prior to reading my horoscope, I had had visions (nightmares) of too many cars on the road, stores jammed with people and products that I didn't want, and the doubt (dread) of not being able to find just the right gift for everyone on my list. 
However, something happened upon reading: You will enjoy shopping this holiday season. I said to myself in that moment: Wow. Really? I'm going to enjoy it? A switch went on, a bright, in-the-holiday-spirit kind of switch. At the same time, the switch of doom disappeared. I'd been nudged
And to my surprise, my positive attitude carried me through the crowds and ugly ties and towards just the right scarf and …given who might be reading this, I don't want to give any other my day's just-right finds away.
My nudge came about coincidentally. On further thought, it's possible that the nudge article primed my pump to be open to such nudges). And this got me thinking further. Nudging is not only for economists, governments, educators, parents, coaches... 
Why not build in personal nudges when we need them? 
Try some out, see what happens: inside and out. Start simply. Smile, laugh, breathe, give a hug… It takes being conscious of our feelings and thoughts and subsequent actions, those that make us anxious or frustrated, so that we may nudge them into a more beneficial, positive place, and those that energize and calm us so that we may access the appropriate nudge as needed.

Happy and Merry Nudging,