Opting Out

In Australia, one in three individuals are registered organ donors. This is a pretty low number, despite evidence that shows 69% of Australians believe it to be important.

Australia operates an “opt-in” system to register your willingness to donate organs when you die. This means that you must give permission to donate your organs while you are still alive. In other countries who operate this system, rates sit as low as 15%.

An interesting thing happens when we reframe the situation. When we create conditions where we must “opt-out”, we see adherence dramatically increase.

In Austria, there are laws that make organ donation the default option at time of death. So you must explicitly “opt-out” of this when you are alive. In these “opt-out” countries, organ donations sit at around 90%.

This is a complete flip of the opt-in system.

The reason this works is because it challenges people’s perceptions. In Austria, organ donation is normal so to opt-out is going against the status quo. You are choosing to be different. To go against the desired behaviour.

Building positive habits is hard. We face resistance in all its forms. So it makes sense to create a path of least resistance. When we try to establish a new habit or behaviour, we need to create the conditions to opt-out. We need to reframe the problem.

We need to shift our idea of what is considered “normal”.

Let’s say you are trying to eat a healthier diet. Instead of choosing “to eat more healthy food”, we need to choose “not to eat unhealthy food”. We flip it and make good behaviour normal.

We must then create the conditions where healthy eating is normal. For example, surround yourself with nutritious food by only filling your pantry with food that is good for you. Then, when you want to eat chocolate or ice cream, you must deliberately choose to leave the house and buy some. This requires effort. It requires you to opt-out.

By setting these new conditions for what’s normal, we set ourselves up for success.

If you would like to learn more about setting up Systems for Success, Virtus is running a virtual workshop this Sunday. It will give you strategies and information on how to live better. Send me a message or check out the FB event if you are keen to join in.

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