How to ‘Nudge’ Yourself to Meet Your Goals - America's Future

January 21, 2020

Markets & Free Enterprise

How to ‘Nudge’ Yourself to Meet Your Goals

By: Brenée Goforth

In 2017, economist Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. His most notable work – and the one that likely sent him to Stockholm to accept this award – is the book he co-wrote with Cass Sunstein, Nudge. In their book, Thaler and Sunstein define a nudge as “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.” Nudges are a kind of “libertarian paternalism.” Libertarian, because they take away no options and allow people the freedom to choose, and paternalistic because it tries to influence choices in a way that makes the chooser better off.

Nudges can help people choose options that are better for their health, finances, and everything in between. With New Year’s resolutions in full swing, maybe these suggestions could help you hit your goals.

1. Keep your yoga mat out
One thing that keeps people from exercising is the obstacle of driving to the gym or the taking out and putting away of their workout equipment. For that reason, I keep my yoga mat rolled out in my living room. That’s right, I moved my small coffee table out of the way, and every time I come home from work it stares right at me. The results? I use it way more than I used to! Not only could this increase how often you exercise, but maybe you will start working out at home so much you won’t need that expensive gym pass you pay for.

2. Label your bank accounts
Did you know you can change the name of your bank accounts? Many banks allow you to rename these accounts from “account number 12345678” to “Paris Fund” or even “DO NOT TOUCH!” You are much more likely to put money into savings if every time you open your banking app you see your money going towards one of your financial goals. BONUS TIP: Open multiple savings accounts for different goals, e.g. a long-term savings account, an emergency fund, a vacation savings account, a health savings account (ask your HR representative if you qualify for an HSA or an FSA – that way you can get tax benefits on that money too!).

3. Get an Accountability Partner
You are much more likely to do something if you are held responsible by someone else, so get a friend to hold you accountable! If you promised a friend you would meet them at the gym at 5:00 PM, you are less likely to skip out on the gym because you don’t want to flake on your friends. You can do the same thing with meal prep! Set a time to meal prep together either at one another’s house or to video-chat and prepare together. You can even have a shopping buddy to stop you from making that last-minute purchase at the register or a financial accountability partner to ensure you reach your financial goals. Just because your goals are personal does not mean you are the only person who can help you achieve them.

For whatever goals you have made for yourself, I challenge you to find a few nudges that will help you accomplish them.