THE UNIVERSE IS NOT SHORT OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE DREAMS AND AMBITIONS. Every waking day, we experience spurts of creativity and moments of groundbreaking ideas. Research has shown that each one of us has at least five ideas that if followed with implementation, would shift the trajectory of our lives, and those of others. And so the question begs; why would one not choose actions that are in tandem with their intentions, and pursue their ideals and ambitions?

IN ATTEMPTING TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION, it is important to note that human beings don’t always do what they plan or know they ought to do. We don’t always act in our best interests even though we know that we should. Our human tendencies interfere with the process of making the right decisions for ourselves; we procrastinate, we postpone, we are inconsistent and we are prone to feeling demotivated. We plan but we don’t follow through to execute. Other factors in the world that we live in also interfere with our mood and thoughts and consequently our will power …our energy drops, and our execution acuity dips!

THIS IS A CASE OF INTENTION-ACTION GAP, – the difference between what you plan to do and what you actually do. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman (he is also a Nobel Laureate) argues that there are two systems of thinking that make human beings act against their own self-interest.

  • System 1 Thinking which is automatic, unconscious and susceptible to environmental influences (i.e prone to bias)
  • System 2 thinking which is more rational, slow, intentional and controlled.

SINCE WE ALREADY KNOW that the best decisions for ourselves are influenced by how we think and the environment we live in, how do we ensure that we actually do what we intend to do to maximize our productivity and happiness?

Enter NUDGE. The nudge theory promoted by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ involves presenting choices in different ways to alter people’s behavior in a predictable way without precluding options. Nudge goes hand in hand with another term; Heuristics. Heuristics are mental short cuts that human beings employ to make decisions. Therefore nudges are designed to adapt your environment so that you get the most desired result when making decisions using System 1 thinking or heuristics.

IS THE NUDGE THEORY APPLICABLE TO INDIVIDUALS? Yes, it is. The nudge theory has been a success in both the public and private sector. What then must we do to bridge the Intention-Action Gap?

IT IS UPON US TO EXAMINE WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN NUDGE OURSELVES so that we follow through with our good intentions. What in your environment can be altered to motivate your decisions to favour you? We are to find ways which draw our attention (entice us) to the desired option. Remember that nudges ought to be affordable/reasonable/economical and easy to implement. Further, the nudges you develop should ensure that the desired option or action is noticeable.

TODAY, GET CHALLENGED to pause and restructure your environment to enable you make the best decisions. The goal is progress over perfection because you are a HUMAN BEING!


Wambui Muriuki is a creative and a story teller. An administrator in an institution of higher learning, her interests are in sustainable agriculture, mental health and wellness. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness Management and currently pursuing a Masters degree in Agricultural Economics. An avid reader and nature lover, she lives and works in Embu County, Kenya.