Quick Tip on Behavior Modification

Decide the behaviors that are crucial to your goals. Pick the number one behavior that you tend to blow off or act mindlessly about.


  • Slouching.
  • Nail biting or picking.
  • Negative self talk.
  • Exercise.
  • Procrastination.
  • Eating behaviors.
  • Rumination.
  • Lack of focus.

Buy an electronic interval timer like MotivAider or Gymboss, an interval timer app on your smart phone or a watch with timer. Set it to go off every 15 to 30 minutes. It needs to be a timer you can keep somewhere so that it is always with you (a watch, in your pocket or use a clip to fasten it on your clothing).  Set it on vibrate rather than on an audible tone so that you don’t bug other people when it goes off.  Just be sure the interval timer can be set on continuous repeat. I keep mine on from 7am to 4pm, vibrating every 15 minutes.

Decide on a one or two sentence script that you will mentally say to yourself every time you feel the vibration.

It is best if the goal and the related script resonates emotionally with you. If you feel you "should do something" rather than I "really want to do something", the script won't be as powerful. "Should" statements often don't reflect what you really want.

Figuring out what behaviors you really are willing to commit to will be covered in another post. It may take a coach to help you work through your goals or a cognitive therapist to deal with deeper issues, depending on your objectives. If you have addiction issues, you'll want to work with trained professionals.

For now, just pick one behavior you want to work with. The stronger your desire to change the better.

Examples of scripts that you can use with the timer:

  • I am aware of my posture and will sit up/stand up straight.
  • I am aware of and will stop nail biting.
  • I am aware of my negative self talk and will re-frame it.
  • I won’t procrastinate doing __________. (Be specific)
  • I will eat healthily.
  • I will be mindful and not ruminate about things I can't control, are in the past, or are in the future. I will stay in the present moment.
  • I will stay off social media during work hours.
  • I won’t read or watch negative news.
  • I commit to carefully manage my time to achieve my goals.

How does it work? It provides a steady stream of reminders throughout the day so that you become intensely aware of the behavior you want to change. Constant reinforcement leads to behavior change.

I’ve used this method on and off for years and it is really effective.

I used to be an outplacement/career coach and an executive coach, and this was one of the tools I always recommended to my clients because it is practical and absolutely works.

But you must believe, at your emotional core, that you are actually willing to commit to your behavior change. If you are doubtful, this method might not work.

If you feel uncertain, go to the opposite end of your goal list and pick the smallest behavior change you want to achieve and start with that until you feel that this approach actually works for you.

I'm a big believer in Kaizen, which is the Japanese word for incremental improvement. You decide to do something, and then figure out a small improvement that you can commit to. This is an iterative process that takes place over and over again. Given time, with enough Kaizen incremental improvements, you achieve major change.

I'll do another post on Kaizen, but pick a goal and write a script that is not overwhelming but can evolve over time as you become more comfortable with the changes.

Finally the obvious question will be: Do I still use this? Of course. Every single day. Because it works.

My personal script when the timer goes off: “What is the best use of my time right now?”

This script is an incredibly effective way of focusing my mind on what is really important and triggers the right behavior at the right time.

Try it. You'll like it.