“I’m obsessed with how behavior works. Even on vacation I’m thinking about behavior, I’m watching behavior, I’m reading stuff on it. I’m trying to understand it systematically.” — B.J. Fogg
What desired behavior change are you struggling with? Maybe you want to lose those last 10 pounds or get to the gym three times a week. It could be that you just want to increase your productivity at work or keep the house from being so cluttered.
It’s all about getting and staying motivated, right?
Not according to B.J. Fogg, the Director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University. Fogg says that long-term behavior change doesn’t have as much to do with motivation as you might think. It’s more about establishing tiny habits that are anchored to already established ones.
Motivation applies to temporary behavior change, but not long term. Fogg says “Relying primarily on motivation to change your behavior long term is a losing strategy. Motivation is very slippery. If you set yourself up to do something really hard and you have to somehow sustain the motivation, the motivation is going to drop down and there’s going to be a point where you won’t do it.”
He says the same is true of willpower.
In Fogg’s Ted Talk, Forget Big Change, Start With A Tiny Habit, he shows you how you can change your life and change your behaviors by making a series of tiny changes. He believes that if you design your goals around the outcomes you’re deisgning at the wrong place. You need to focus on the behaviors that lead to the desired outcome.
For example, if the desired outcome is weight loss, there are many, many behaviors that lead to that losing weight. As we create these tiny habits, little by little we will approach the health outcome in a very reliable way.
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Fogg has created a behavior change formula that consists of three elements: Motivation. Ability. Trigger. There has to be some level of motivation present. You have to have the ability to do the habit. There has to be a trigger to get you to do it.
In the Ted Talk he explains how the trigger is the key to the behavior change process and explains how to set up the triggers so that they work.
Fogg devotes 50% of his time to his Persuasive Lab at Stanford and 50% to industry innovation. At his lab they focus on methods for creating habits and automating behavior change. Over the years, improving health outcomes has become a theme.
Another focus of the lab is peace innovation and they are investigating how technology can help change attitudes and behaviors in ways that bring about global harmony. While they realize that is this an “idealistic project, and [they] may fail, given the state of the world, choosing not to pursue this line of research would be irrational.”
He has a body of work that includes a Behavior Design Boot Camp which is a two-day event that takes place at his guest house in Northern California and a book titled Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do.
Fogg was chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of 10 New Gurus You Should Know.
Join Tiny Habits
B.J. can help you create new behaviors through his Tiny Habits program that he has shared with over 20,000 people around the world. This 5-day method starts every Monday and he will check in with you via email Monday through Friday of the week you’re registered for to see how you’re doing.
Space is limited. The current session is sold out, so if you’re interested in joining, you will need to check the web site on a regular basis in order to get in.
What tiny habits are you working on?
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