To Kickstart a New Behavior, Copy and Paste

Katy Milkman: When we’re unsure of ourselves, a powerful way the people around us can help boost our capacity and confidence is by showing us what’s possible. Often, in fact, we’re more influenced by observation than by advice. By watching her vegetarian peers create meals in the dining hall and order in restaurants, Kassie was able to pick up techniques that made vegetarianism work for her. Happily, it’s easy to turn yourself into a deliberate copy-and-paster. The next time you’re falling short of a goal, look to high-achieving peers for answers. If you’d like to get more sleep, a well-rested friend with a similar lifestyle may be able to help. If you’d like to commute on public transit, don’t just look up the train schedules — talk to a neighbor who’s already abandoned her car. You’re likely to go further faster if you find the person who’s already achieving what you want to achieve and copy and paste their tactics than if you simply let social forces influence you through osmosis.

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