In With Habits
Goal setting has become a popular feature in many digital banking experiences, yet there is increasing evidence that they’re not being achieved. There two core reasons for this failure
- Lack of post goal engagement
- Incorrect goals – too hard or too easy
I set this goal up on internet banking @NAB and at the end this is all that happened. I got a graph, with a line and some numbers. This looks very different to what happens when I set up some goals on my iWatch
There is increasing recognition that its not about goals but habits . Perhaps like you , I brush my teeth every morning and every night. It’s kind of a goal but its not very SMART – I’d just like to keep my teeth. I didn’t set the goal, my mum and dentist created the habit when I was a child and I kept it up. If we want to get great at things we need to form habits around them. Tim Ferris in his Tools of Titans books talks at length of this as he interviews his Titans
Research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes on average 66 days to install a new habit. Habits work by breaking big goals down into smaller micro goals that are more achievable and present opportunities for platforms to drive engagement. By breaking down the goals into smaller actions, we can wire up AI driven rules engines to trigger the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine through numerous game mechanics, leveraging the way our reward centre in our brain works
Jamie Pride calls out three steps to building powerful habits. He describes how weighing yourself everyday leads to people losing weight because it becomes a cornerstone habit, eating, exercising and sleeping better because of it. His three steps to building the habits and therefore achieving the goals are
- The best way to eat an elephant – one bite at a time
- Easiest way across a desert – one step at a time
The idea is to create action
- Are you looking to take up mediation? Start with a minute of mindfulness.
- Want to get fit? Start with one push up.
- Want to write a book? How about writing 50 words a day.
- Want a jet ski? Save $40 now!
The point is to eliminate the excuses and lower the bar so that action occurs and can then be repeated
Once the daily habits are established, the next step is to chain them. There are three components to a habit;
- a Cue that triggers the habit,
- the Action or Routine that you take,
- a Reward upon completion of the habit.
In Game Design and inherent in the way the GameSystem has been built the “If This Then That” engine drives the stacking
- Cue – Monthly Pay Arrives
- Action – Pay bills
- Reward – Deliver Notification
Its not the goal setting that’s important when trying to drive habits and in the world of finance, financial fitness. Its ensuring the engine drives the stacking of the behaviours to enforce the habits. The engine must define and pick up the cues, motivate action and enforce repetition through reward.
In the Jetski example, even once the goal was sent, we can see there was an immediate opportunity for micro events and actions (make first payment) to be taken off the cue (Goal Set) to be followed up by a Reward.
“A vegan, an atheist and a cross fitter walk into a bar. I only know because they told everyone in the first two minutes”.
These three communities are well known because they are heavily linked with an individuals identity. Their activities are more than actions and goals they are a way of life, as habits become ones identity, you become what you want to achieve. One goes from writing a book to becoming a writer. One goes from having a jetski to becoming a JetSkier
As banks around the world seek to exist on purpose and seek opportunity in financial wellness, they must become more grounded in the science of what it takes to deliver change, helping customers build strong savings and spending habits by embedding behavioural economics through game design into the digital experience