identifying behavior. woman writing at a desk.

How To Identify Your Behaviors

The first step in changing your behavior is identifying exactly what behavior you’re trying to change. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to address the following question:

What exactly is behavior?

Behavior is any action that can be counted or measured. “Running” and “practicing the piano” are actions that can be counted and are therefore behaviors. Even “thinking about elephants” is behavior because it can be counted by the person doing the thinking. (This is called covert behavior, because it is only directly observable by the person doing it.) In contrast, “healthy” and “productive” are not actions and, therefore, are not behaviors.

Another way to determine if something is a behavior is to ask whether it’s an “-ing” word—a verb—that could fit into the following sentence: I am ______-ing. For example:

I am running. (Run is a verb.)

I am practicing the piano. (Practice is a verb.)

I am thinking about elephants. (Think is a verb.)

If the behavior you want to change fits the above criteria, then you’re on the right track. 

Before we move on, let’s revisit the non-behaviors mentioned earlier: healthy and productive. If they’re not behaviors, does that mean they’re unchangeable?

Of course not! People become healthier and more productive all the time. It’s just that in their current form—adjectives—healthy and productive are not behaviors. Rather, they are labels for different sets of behavior. 

For example, healthy may entail, “eating organic food” and “running on the treadmill.” Likewise, productive might include, “writing for 30 minutes” and “completing a report.”

Simply ask yourself, “What would I have to do if I wanted to be healthy or productive?”

Once you’ve turned your labels into specific behaviors, you’re off and running.

With Gale, you’ll be asked to identify what behaviors you want to change. Importantly, the more precise the better! “Running on the treadmill for 30 minutes” is better than “Running.” “Writing 200 words” is better than “Writing.” And so on…

Once you’ve identified the specific behaviors you want to change, then it’s time to move forward. And Gale will help you do just that.