Desired change means it is something people want to do. This is Fogg Maxim #1: Help people do what they already want to do. Understanding Behavior Design is the first step to achieving any desired change. BJ Fogg, PhD, explains Behavior Design in his book Tiny Habits as B=MAP; Behavior equals Motivation, Ability and Prompt. These three elements must happen at the same moment for the behavior to occur.
We often rely on motivation or willpower to make changes. The behavior will not last unless the task is easy enough and has a prompt. Fogg uses the terms ability and simplicity interchangeably. Motivation and ability are inversely related. The easier it is, the less motivation required. Yet, there still needs to be a prompt to create action (behavior).
There are two ways to make a tiny change, either with a starter step or scaling back. A starter step is taking the first step of your goal. If exercising every day after work is your goal, start by making a habit of putting your workout shoes on after you straighten your desk. Assuming you straighten your desk at the end of each workday, you can use that habit as your prompt! It doesn’t require that much motivation to change your shoes and it fits into your routine. Scaling back is reducing the desired behavior to make it easy. An example is exercising one day a week rather than every day after work.
We need one more step to develop desired habits, “shine.” BJ Fogg invented this word to describe the positive feeling we get from experiencing success. The anatomy of a tiny new habit requires a celebration. So, after you put on your workout shoes, celebrate. You might celebrate verbally, saying “yes!” or physically by raising your hand in a fist to propel yourself from the chair or just a smile and say “I did it” to yourself. The A, B, Cs of a new habit are Anchor Moment, straightening the desk; Behavior, putting on shoes; Celebration, “Yes!” That celebration makes us happy and sends a message to our brain.
Fogg Maxim #2: Help people feel successful. The celebration must be immediate and authentic for celebratory self-pride or “shine” to work, to encode the new habit. Immediate may be easy, as soon as the second shoelace is knotted, smile, and say, “I did it.” The celebration must feel real. Fogg gives several examples in his book to determine a few authentic celebrations. He asks the readers to just react to the scenarios he describes that include your favorite team winning the championship just as the clock runs out. “Whoo Hoo” is one of my natural reactions.
If you want to change something, clearly define your desired outcome. Then come up with as many behaviors as you can that will help you achieve that outcome. Determine which behaviors will have the highest impact and then select those that are the easiest to do. Start with one easy, impactful behavior and incorporate B=MAP. Whoo Hoo!