Use The New Year To Improve Your Behavioral Fitness At Work

SThis article is by Lee Newman[1], dean of innovation and behavior at IE Business School, dean of IEs School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, a former consultant at McKinsey & Company and a founder of two technology ventures. Follow him on Twitter[2], Facebook[3], and LinkedIn[4].

Behaviors are what drive success in the workplace. The brilliant strategy will not get implemented, the great marketing plan may sit in a drawer, and the ingenious process innovation will likely be stymied if key colleagues are not included, listened to, considered, influenced, and ultimately won over. With shrinking budgets, tightening deadlines and accelerating competition, all employees need to continually tune their behaviors to perform at their best, moment-by-moment on the job.

Yet changing behaviors is hard, and, just like New Years resolutions, plans for behavioral change in the workplace most often end in failure. Just ask yourself: Did I beat my addiction to micromanaging my team? Am I now the great listener I wanted to be? Chances are you set some goal last year, you thought it would make you a better professional, and you tried hard to make it happen. But as deadlines approached and fires flared, your goal receded into the background and . . . not much changed.

Whats the secret to following through on your professional goals in 2014?

Just as becoming physically fit requires consistent effort at the gym, staying behaviorally fit at work also requires practice. By thinking about behavioralfitness in theworkplacethe same way you think about physical fitness at thegym, and following the five tips below, you can make your professional resolution this year a reality. Youll thank yourself, and your co-workers will thank you too.

1. Choose only one behavior. Yes, behavioral change is that hard. People who successfully change behaviors focus on one at a time. Whether its being more supportive, listening more carefully, learning to trust, or any other workplace behavior, achieving a change means replacing some habitual behavior with one that is more productive. And while habits are deeply wired in the brain, we can change them[5] by understanding a bit more about how they work. By identifying what triggers a current behavior, and creating rewards for the desired new behavior, bad habits can be transformed over time into good ones.

So set aside your list, and choose the one workplace behavior you are most motivated to change. If you get it done, then start on number two.

2. Practice, the right way. Talk is cheap. When it comes to behavioral change, it is practice that rules the day. Becoming more behaviorally fit at work requires the same type of dedicated practice as getting the body in shape at the gym. Meetings, heated debates, tough decisions, difficult interpersonal situationsthese are the weight stations and treadmills of the workplace. Developing this mindset, and having the intention to engage in new behaviors at work, is a critical step on the path to change.

Yet not all intentions are the same when it comes to their likelihood of being implemented. People tend to have simple intentions like I want to be a better listener, but research[6] shows that specific intentions are three times more likely to be acted on. These more detailed intentions (known as implementation intentions in behavioral science) are goals defined in terms of specific situations and the explicit behaviors to be taken in these situations: While listening to a co-worker, when I find myself not listening and thinking about what I will say next, I will stop and refocus my attention on what is being said. Just as having a training plan can provide the needed push at the gym, creating an implementation intention is an important ingredient for a behavioral fitness plan in the workplace.

3. Measure, track, and gamify. Havent joined the quantified self[7] movement? Perhaps 2014 is your year to give it a try. With physical fitness, getting feedback on progress isnt hard. You lift more weight, you run further or you finish fasterand this feedback on your progress provides motivation, and it also keeps you honest. By finding creative ways to measure and track yourself at work, you can give your behavioral fitness goals the same kind of boost. Download one of the many goal-tracking mobile apps (Everest[8], Lift[9], Golsie[10], Way of Life[11]), and transform your intention of becoming a better listener into a fun, self-driven competition to beat your numbers every week.

4. Make it social, create risk. Behavioral research[12] has shown that in many common situations, publicly stating an intention increases the likelihood of follow-through by creating accountability and commitment. Engaging supportive co-workers in a behavioral fitness goal can provide necessary incentives, particularly in challenging times when motivation is waning. Co-workers can also serve as a source of feedback and help track progress toward a goal.

If this suggestion scares you, well, thats the point. Humans are innately loss averse[13], a fact established by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman. In most situations we will put more effort into avoiding a loss than into acquiring a gain of the same size. By socializing your goal, you create a risk that you will work hard to avoid. And because its your goaland your choice to socialize itthis can be a positive way to make loss aversion work in your favor.

If social risk is too much for you or your place of work, then use financial risk to achieve your ends. Online services like StickK[14] provide a fun way to create commitment contracts. Break the contract, lose the money.

5. Learn to catch behaviors by counting breaths. Committed to listening more attentively? Adamant about allowing co-workers to learn from their mistakes? Whats critical is catching habitual behaviors as they arise. This means catching yourself not listening or interfering in the work of others. If this sounds like a tall task, it isand its one that requires in-the-moment awareness. Fortunately, the practice of mindfulness meditation[15] has been scientifically shown to help build exactly this type of awareness, as well as bestowing a range of other workplace and health benefits. Sit calmly, count your breaths, and as your mind wanders, bring it gently back to counting. You may find that counting breaths is the key to counting your successes at work.

With the New Year approaching, its time to set your behavioral fitness goal for 2014. What behavioral change will have the most positive impact on your performance at work?


  1. ^ Lee Newman (
  2. ^ Twitter (
  3. ^ Facebook (
  4. ^ LinkedIn (
  5. ^ change them (
  6. ^ research (
  7. ^ quantified self (
  8. ^ Everest (
  9. ^ Lift (
  10. ^ Golsie (
  11. ^ Way of Life (
  12. ^ research (
  13. ^ loss averse (
  14. ^ StickK (
  15. ^ mindfulness meditation (

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    • Gem
    • December 29, 2013

    Does Anyone Know Any Fitness Tips That Work? Short fitness tips that really work would be very helpful, thanks.

    1. Reply

      To stay fit or become?

      Becoming fit requires motivation and determination. Eating healthy and regular exercise.
      Try avoiding fast food places at all times; don’t skip breakfast (most essential meal of the day).
      Hope this link will help you:

  1. Fitness Tips To Prepare To Join The Army? I want to join the army, and I would like some fitness tips so I can whip my butt into shape. I’m almost 16 right now, and I’m not really in shape. Any advice from people who have any kind of military experience would be great, or if you just know some tips. Thanks!

    1. Reply

      Hey man,

      You will need to build mental toughness more than anything, but you will learn that once you join.

      you should start out by doing 200-300 push-ups, 200-300 sit-ups, and 50-100 pull-ups everyday. It does not have to be all at once.

      You will need to get your general fitness levels up. The best way to do that is by doing this

      Jumping jacks-30 seconds
      shuffle splits- 30 seconds
      mountain climbers- 30 seconds
      burpess 30 seconds.

      repeat that 3-4 times. Before joining the army you should be doing that for 30 minutes a day.

      That should help you get started. If you have anymore questions, please ask.

      Good luck.

      Danny lupiani

  2. Reply

    Any Fitness Tips For People With Asthma? Just need some fitness tips to help with my asthma. I want to be able to run for a longer period and have an overall better fitness level. I start losing my breath after about 1 minute of running. Any ideas and tips would be very much appreciated : )

    1. Reply

      First, you have to choose a certain kind of exercise that they really can handle well. Some exercise that might be great choice for asthma sufferers are walking, swimming, riding a bike, as well as hiking. These kinds of exercise needs less physical move than tennis, hockey, gymnastics, long distance running, and many other else. You could also consult their doctors to choose the most appropriate type of exercise for you.

      Second, you can take advantage of your inhaler. You can use your inhaler about 15 minutes before you start to exercise. Besides, makes sure that your inhaler is always close enough to you. You will never know when the attack might hit you. Therefore, providing inhaler as first aid near you is very important.

      Third, breathing through your nose during the exercise is also important. Mouth breathing tends to trigger asthma attack since it causes you to inhale cold air right into the bronchial tube. In contrary, the air that you heal will be filtered well when you are breathing through your nose. Besides, nose breathing also allows the air to be warmer before reaching the lungs.

      The fourth thing you need to do is looking for a certain area that free from pollutions and allergens. However you should also avoid area with too many trees or grass. Then, you should also be aware of the symptoms of asthma that occur during the exercise. If you feel very tired and your chest begins to be tightening, you should be notice that those are the initial symptoms of asthma. Usually, those symptoms will be followed by wheezing. Stop doing any physical activity when these symptoms occur.

      By following those tips, asthma sufferers could still have exercise with less risk of asthma attack. Do not let asthma attack prevent you to have regular exercise activity.

  3. Reply

    What Are The Best Fitness Tips ? I want to know What are the best fitness tips ?

    1. Reply

      Fitness Tip 1 :
      Change does not have to be Hard :
      The majority of the fitness tips that you come across nowadays would request you to go for extended exercises in gym and eat only salads in addition to get registered with various elevated priced health clubs. By fitness tips, the majority of us believe that we have to totally change our life-style and thus the majority of us never bother to think about various helpful fitness tips. The terror of abandoning your dietetic habits is one of the obstacles between people and fitness tips.

      Fitness Tip 2 :
      Try to discover the golden signify between over training and concrete, tangible exercises gains and advantages . Calculate carefully the depth, period and frequency of your exercises. You require visible and quick results but a burnout might prove disastrous .

      Fitness Tip 3 :
      No exercises program and no diet will bring long term consequences if you do not make a serious responsibility. Nourish your self motivation and person discipline. Look into the mirror , if your eyes slash and spark at that time you be able to go on. Put Specific Objectives Setting specific goals means that you have to forget going to the fitness center without even knowing the cause you go. For example, set the practical objective of gaining 5 pounds of muscle mass throughout the next couple of months or to improve your bench weight 10 percent. Your exercises, your diet, your supplementation even your brain must be focused on this objective.

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