This article is about a model that can help you to design your behaviors and habits. The model is based on three elements: a prompt, motivation, and ability. They can help you create or change a behavior or habit so you can be more effective, successful, and experience more fulfillment in life.
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A little over a year ago, I missed an urgent phone call that changed my life. Then at the crack of dawn, the doorbell rang. I jumped out of bed and found my sister at the door. Her eyes were red, and she told me our father had passed away earlier the previous evening.
I could not believe that I missed that phone call, and ever since, I make sure my phone is nearby when I go to bed.
The reason for this new habit was that I want to make sure that loved ones can reach me when it is urgent.
Unfortunately, this new habit has some adverse side effects. As I have my phone near the bed, I check it just before going to sleep and right after I wake up. I found out that my new habit has an impact on my sleep (I have more trouble falling asleep) and my morning routine (I tend to lose track of time when scrolling my phone).
Some habits and behaviors help you to be more successful and others that are not. I am sure you have good habits like working out, getting to bed early, journaling, or making a to-do list for the day. Then I am convinced that you have bad habits (too) like procrastination in starting that project or calling that client, overeating chocolate, and watching another episode of your favorite TV show late at night.
The FOGG Behavoir Model
Recently, I discovered the FOGG behavior model by BJ FOGG, Ph.D. He describes the model in his book “Tiny Habits.” I like models or life hacks, especially if they are backed with evidence. This model can help you to understand your current habits or behaviors, so you can change them so that you can be more effective, successful, and happy. The model also helps you to create new supporting habits that can help you to reach your goals. BJ FOGG rather uses the terms aspirations (desires) or outcomes (which are measurable) instead of goals that are, according to him, ambivalent.
In working with many people and based on research, BJ FOGG discovered that behavior or habits consist of 3 elements:
Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt
All behavior is based on motivation, the ability to act, and a prompt.
Let us go to my new unproductive behavior of scrolling my phone in the evening and in the morning.
The prompt is going to bed or waking up.
The motivation to check my phone is high since I (must admit) that I thrive (too) on news or likes/comments to my social media posts. I have learned that I start to feel good because of the dopamine effect in my body. Yes, I do have a motivation to feel good.
As far as the ability, it is easy to unlock my phone ad check the different feeds.
With high motivation and an easy ability, the behavior is easy. This is different for other things like doing work on the house (still a high motivation but difficult to do), creating a new website (mediocre motivation and difficult to do), or calling a client (low motivation but easy to do).
You can visualize the model in a graph with on the bottom axis ability and the vertical axis, motivation. Behavior is demonstrated when prompt, motivation and ability come together. Motivation can be either low or high, and ability is either hard or easy to do a behavior.
When is Behavior successful and when not?
What determines if a habit or behavior is successful or not, is its position relative to the action line. This is a curved line in the graph going vertical when the behavior is hard to do, and horizontal when motivation is low.
When you are above the action line when prompted, you will do the behavior or demonstrate the habit. When you are below the action line, you will not.
In the graph below, you will see why I am successful in scrolling on my phone in the morning and at night. Again, there is a high motivation, and it is easy to do. As for my business acquisition, there is mediocre to low motivation, and for me, it is hard to do.
This model can help you to modify your habits, so you can refrain from those habits which are not helping you to live a fulfilling life and start with those behaviors which help you to be more effective, successful, powerful, and perhaps more loving.
For my scrolling, I can not do something about motivation. This will stay high because I enjoy scrolling on my phone. I can make it harder by the way, by switching off the Wi-Fi and cellular data of my phone. I can also adjust the ringing volume to very loud and keep my phone downstairs.
For more acquisition work, I can motivate myself more to imagine myself being excited about a new client and by doing one small thing which can help me get more clients. That could be by sending a small note via mail, LinkedIn, or mail, calling someone or creating a post on social media.
Three helpful questions to deal with behavior
If you are struggling with your habits (or someone else’s) you can get more understanding in what to do by answering these three questions:
- What is the prompt to do the behavior?
- What is my, or someone else’s ability to do the behavior?
- Am I or the other motivated to do the behavior?
In his book “Tiny Habits,” BJ FOGG offers you an excellent method to design your behavior further and find high impact behavior, to help yourself and others. For more information about the behavior model, please go to www.behaviormodel.org or read the book “Tiny Habits” by BJ FOGG.
I encourage you to choose a habit or behavior and mark it on the graph. By tracking down the motivation and the ability to perform this habit, this method can help you to get insight into what you can do to be more successful. This can either by adjusting the motivation and your ability by making it easier or more difficult to do.
Is your Behavior in line with your WHY?
I believe that habits and behaviors are also easier to deal with when you have discovered your WHY. Your WHY helps you to make choices (in e.g., habits) so you can effectively contribute to this world. Doing something which is in line with my WHY relates to a strong feeling of happiness, fulfillment, and love. This can be by asking myself if a certain habit or behavior (like not calling clients) is in line with my WHY. It is easier to do an effective behavior (calling that client) since it will enable me to serve by facilitating so that others can elevate themselves and live more fully.
Do you want to discover your WHY? Contact me by clicking the link below. WHY sessions can now also be done online via Zoom or Skype. Do you want to read something first about finding your WHY? Read this article!
How do you effectively change behaviors to improve your life? Let me know in the comment field below. Other readers of this article and I are looking forward to reading from you!
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–“Tiny Habits,” by BJ FOGG