Tiny Habits to Change Your Life with Dr. BJ Fogg
"You change best by feeling good."
Dr. BJ Fogg
How can you use tiny habits to change your life?
Today we welcome back a very special guest, BJ Fogg—New York Times bestselling author of one of my favorite books, Tiny Habits. He was kind enough to endorse our framework—the Limitless model. BJ is a behavioral scientist, author, speaker, and behavior change expert.
In this episode, BJ gives us the formula for habit design and shares three hacks for habit change. He offers practical tips, grounded in behavioral science, to create the habits you’ve always wanted and suggests that habit creation is best as a feel-good process.
If you haven’t already listened to my earlier conversation with BJ, you can find it here!
THE BEHAVIOR MODEL
- Take any habit that you want and make it super tiny—really easy to do. (e.g. rather than 30 minutes of meditation, do 3 breaths; instead of 20 pushups, do 2.)
- If the behavior is super small and easy, you don’t need much motivation to do the behavior.
- The model shows that motivation goes up and down over time, and we do not have a ton of control over that. This means if you pick a habit that is hard, when your motivation sags, you won’t do it.
TINY HABITS HACKS
- 1. Make it so easy that it does not require much motivation.
- 2. You need something to remind you to do the habit. You can use an existing routine to become the prompt for the new habit. (i.e. brushing your teeth is your prompt for flossing.
- 3. Use celebration to tie the habit in quickly. Immediately after you do a new habit, cause yourself to feel a positive emotion to hack your brain—the emotion causes the habit formation.
- It is not true that it takes 66 days to form a habit—research shows that repetition does not form a habit, it’s the emotion that you feel when you do the behavior.
- Habits can form very quickly by using the celebration method. More on this in BJ’s book.
THE FUNDAMENTAL BEHAVIOR MODEL
- B = MAP
- Behavior happens when three things come together at any moment—motivation, ability, and prompt.
- If you want to get rid of a behavior, you have three options: you can reduce motivation, make it harder to do, or move the prompt.
- Any behavior or habit always comes back to motivation, ability, and prompt.
- If you make something really easy to do, whether your motivation is high or low, all you need is a prompt.
THE TINY HABIT DIFFERENCE
- With tiny habits, your prompt is your existing routine, again your motivation could be high or low, but if you make it really easy(tiny) to do you are no longer susceptible to the swings of motivation.
- When it comes to picking your habits, make them really easy but remember to make yourself feel successful to wire it in.
- When you are designing for habits, you are really designing for emotion.
- Once the habit wires in, you don’t have to celebrate it anymore. The celebration is what you do until the habit wires in.
- If you want to stop doing something, it’s more complicated. It’s a different process.
- All habits form in the same way—good or bad—they start small and get reinforced. The way that you untangle bad habits is more nuanced, but it always includes the three components of motivation, ability, and prompt. More on this in Tiny Habits.
DESIGNING TINY HABITS
- We want to make Limitless the most read book of the year. Here’s what you can do if you have the book and haven’t read it yet:
- First, take the reading behavior and scale it way back. Make it so easy that even if you are sick or in a rush, you will still do it. For example, instead of reading a chapter or expecting to read 5 pages, just read a paragraph or a sentence. Then you won’t have to rely on motivation.
- Next, find where it fits naturally in your life. Maybe you start reading Limitless after you start the coffee maker or after you sit down with lunch. You have to design it into your life. It’s not about will power, it’s a design process. If you are tapping into will power or think you are lacking motivation, you are headed in the wrong direction.
- Then, every time you open the book to read, celebrate. You can say something to yourself like, “Wow! This is helping me to achieve my life’s purpose”. You can also create a bookmark with a smiley face on it for you to see each time you open the book. BJ used the bookmark to help him feel successful when he had a goal to read more.
- If you can connect the habit of opening the book and actively think about how it’s helping you achieve your life’s purpose, that’s a form of celebration.
- You change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad. Too often people think that change is hard and they have to beat themselves up, but that’s not the best way to change.
- The powerful message to get out there is: there are ways to transform your life by feeling good. If you are feeling bad, it’s a signal to find a better way to do it.
- Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us (@jimkwik and @bjfogg) and tell us your favorite aha! moment. We’ll repost some of our favorites!
- Order BJ’s book: Tiny Habits
Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy
Episode 166: Kwik & Easy Way to Understand Your Habits with BJ Fogg
Episode 101: 4 Keys to Changing Your Behavior and Habits
Episode 17: How To Break Bad Habits That Hold You Back with BJ Fogg
Episode 15: How to Create A New Habit with BJ Fogg