How To Build the Life Habits You Want

A redbit by Joe Bennett

If we slow down and take a deep look at ourselves, I believe we’ll recognize a persistent desire to improve the quality of our lives. This desire shows up differently for everyone based on individual situations and circumstances (examples range from meditating to diet changes), but often has the common requirement of a change in how we behave.

The journey of adopting new behaviors or stopping existing behaviors is tricky — we find ourselves automatically doing the things we want to stop or resisting the new behaviors we want. I happened to discover a wonderful tool on my path with this that dramatically helped me, and I’d like to share it with you with the hope that you’ll employ it as well.

Stanford professor and human behavior expert, Dr. BJ Fogg developed a model for human behavior that simplifies and visualizes how behavior happens. The model states that a behavior happens when sufficient motivation, ability, and a prompt happen at the same time. If any of these ingredients is missing, the behavior will not occur. Here’s Dr. Fogg’s visualization of the model:

This model helped me to diagnose why a new behavior wasn’t happening. I could ask myself these questions regarding the behavior:

  • Am I prompting myself do it?
  • Do I have the ability to do it?
  • Am I motivated?

Using the model visually, I could plot my level of ability and motivation, and identify whether or not I was prompting the behavior.

Here’s a brief video of Dr. Fogg explaining how to use the model:

I’ve also used this technique successfully with others throughout my last 5 years while working on building and growing products that help people do things that many of us find extremely challenging. While helping people with cultural change, daily planning, and financial budgeting, it’s been necessary and essential to understand how to influence people to both adopt new behaviors and become successful at using these tools designed to help them with these new behaviors.

As you apply it Dr. Fogg’s model in your life, I’d encourage you to do so with these steps to maximize your odds of success:

1. Identify the behaviors you want.

2. Design an effective “prompt” for the behavior you want

3. If the behavior you want to do isn’t happening, reflect and analyze your ability and motivation using Dr. Fogg’s behavior model and make the necessary changes

Also keep in mind that adopting new behaviors doesn’t always happen easily because our bodies and brains optimize for efficiency and status quo, and that’s normal. Nothing is wrong with you, nothing is broken, if you find this to be the case for you. And there’s wisdom in recognizing this and adopting tools that can help us change.

Based on both personal and professional experience I can tell you with 100% confidence that this model works and will help you achieve the new habits you want in your life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

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