Learning to drive
Mental resources like attention and willpower are limited. In order to function, we learn subconscious routines that free the resources for more valuable and urgent situations. Remember your first driving class (If you’re driving an automatic, you won’t relate much to this story, but please imagine the pain of manual gears) - Using one hand for the wheel while switching the gear with another one, while pressing the clutch with your foot, looking at three mirrors, road, signs and listening a driving instructor. It was a sensory overload. Brain can’t handle so much information at a same time, so we learn discrete procedures and internalize them:
- If I’m turning, turn on the indicators
- When I turn the car off, I should pull the handbrake
- After I turn the engine on I need to turn on the lights, etc.
Uncertainty and change
One of the most overlooked insight about behavior change is that the bigger the uncertainty is, harder it is to achieve change. Thus, per Steve Wendel’s model from Designing for Behavior Change, in order to do some action, a person needs to notice a trigger, react to it, find the activity worth doing, have everything available to do it and have enough time for it. Only if all conditions are met, person will perform the activity.