Behavioral science also helps us understand the quirks of our behavior, above and beyond our decisions, especially why we decide to do one thing and actually do something else. This understanding starts with the same base as for decisions: that we’re limited beings with limited attention, memory, willpower, etc. Our minds still use clever shortcuts to help us economize and avoid taxing our limited resources. But these facts make themselves felt in different ways after we’ve made a decision. In particular, we have errors of inaction and errors of unintentional action. If you work from home a stand up desk could be very beneficial to you.

In the research literature, the intention–action gap is one of the major errors of inaction. We’ve all felt this gap in one way or another. For example, do you have a friend with a gym membership, or exercise equipment at home, that they just don’t use that often? Do they really enjoy giving money to a gym? Of course not. They really intended to go to the gym when they first signed up, or to use that fancy machine when they first bought it. It’s just that they didn’t. The benefits of the gym are still clear. And despite all of their past failures, they keep hoping and believing that they’ll get it together and go regularly. But something else gets in the way that isn’t motivation. So they keep paying—and keep failing to go.

With the intention–action gap, the intention to act is there, but people don’t follow through and act on it. It’s not that people are insincere or lack motivation; the gap happens because of how our minds are wired. It illustrates one of the core lessons of behavioral science: good intentions and the sincere desire to do something, aren’t enough. And unintentional action? I don’t mean revelry that we regret the next morning. Rather, I mean behaviors that we don’t intend even while we’re doing them, often because we aren’t aware or thinking about them. One cause of these we’ve already looked at: habits.

Our habits allow us to take action without thought—effortlessly riding a bike, navigating the interface of common applications, or playing sports. But naturally, they can also go awry. Do you know someone who just can’t stop eating junk food? Each night, when they get home tired and need a break, on the way to the couch, they pick up a candy bar and a bag of chips and sit down with the laptop to watch videos. An hour or so later, they take a break and notice the crumpled-up wrapper and bag and throw them away. They’re still hungry and hardly noticed the snacks on their way into their mouth. There are many other examples, like when we get hooked on cigarettes (it appears the habit is more powerful than the nicotine, in fact), on late-night TV binging, or on incessantly checking social media apps. Invest in an electric standing desk or an adjustable standing desk to get rid of your backpain.