BJ Fogg is one of the world’s leading experts in behavior change.
He has created The Fogg Behavior Model, which is a handy framework for building habits.
According to the model, a behavior happens when three elements converge at the same moment1:
- A prompt — You have to remember to do the behavior.
- Motivation — You have to want to do the behavior.
- Ability — You have to be able to do the behavior.
You can easily create a prompt using if-then planning. All you have to do is fill out this formula:
If [situation] – Then I will [habit].
For example, If I start my computer at work, Then I will do one hour of deep work.
The other two elements, motivation and ability, have a trade-off relationship with each other.
If your motivation is high, you can do hard things. But if your motivation is low, you can only do easy things.
And since motivation is a feeling that comes and goes, it’s the least reliable element in the model.
So, instead of trying to increase your motivation, it’s generally much better to increase your ability.
That means making the behavior so easy that you’ll do it even when your motivation is low.
And you can do that either by creating a tiny version of the habit or by taking the tiny first step of the full habit.
In our example, you could start by doing just two minutes of deep work. Or, you could begin by simply closing the office door behind you.
If you establish a clear prompt, and strike the right balance between motivation and ability, your habit will quickly take hold and naturally grow over time.
So, whenever you want to create a lasting habit, keep The Fogg Behavior Model in mind.
- Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg