How do you form new habits quickly? Your success is tied in large part to your ability to create positive new behaviors and routines. Learn how to create new habits with the world’s leading expert in behavior change and habits: Stanford behavioral scientist Dr. B.J. Fogg.
If you’re relying primarily on willpower to create a habit, you’re approaching it wrong.
Start with a behavior that you actually want in your life.
The Fogg Behavior Model: Behavior happens when there is motivation to do the behavior, there’s ability, and there’s a trigger.
The Fogg Behavior Model: B = MAT
B stands for Behavior.
- Get specific. Specificity can change behavior.
- If you want to read more, decide:
- What book do I want to read? How many pages do I want to read? What time? How long do I want to read? Where will I read?
M stands for Motivation.
- Pick a behavior you already want to do – not something you should do.
- There’s no magical way to create inherent motivation.
- It’s very hard to create a habit around something you dislike, but you can create a routine.
- Information combined with emotion is a long-term memory. Motivation is charged with emotion.
- What defines a habit is how automatic the behavior is. That’s why it’s a myth that it takes 21 days to create a habit. The behavior doesn’t switch into a habit from Day 20 to 21.
- The level of automaticity is a continuous variable.
- You can hack automacity by firing a positive emotion inside yourself as you do the behavior or immediately after.
- Make yourself feel a positive emotion on demand and that will make the behavior more automatic.
- The more intense the emotion, the faster the habit forms and the more permanent the habit becomes.
- Try an internal or physical celebration when you perform the behavior – like singing a celebratory song in your head.
A stands for Ability.
- The easier you can make the behavior, the more likely you are to do it as your motivation increases and decreases.
- You want a behavior that doesn’t require a lot of motivation because motivation is fickle.
- The Tiny Habits Method asks you to shrink the behavior into its smallest step – like just opening the book.
- The more you do a behavior, the easier it gets.
- You develop momentum and consistency because behaviors naturally grow.
- You start learning to carve out a space in your day to do the behavior.
- Not every habit needs to start out tiny, but it’s a reliable method.
- Think through all the simplicity factors:
- How much time does it take?
- How much money does it cost?
- How much effort does it require?
- How much do you have to think about it?
- If your habit doesn’t stick, try re-designing the environment. If it still doesn’t work, re-design it again.
- Think about habit formation as a design process and not a willpower process.
T stands for Trigger.
- A trigger is a prompt or cue. What will remind you to do the behavior?
- A trigger can come from your environment.
- Try putting a post-it note somewhere.
- This doesn’t scale well, but it works.
- A trigger can be internal – where you suddenly remember the behavior.
- This isn’t a great trigger because it’s unreliable.
- A trigger can be an action or routine you already do.
- This is why you can create a lot of habits at once.
- Get really clear on where this new behavior can fit naturally in my day. You could read when you sit down on your commute or journal in bed.
- If you try a spot and it doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up. Just try another spot.