Behavior change is hard. Studies show that up to 45% of our behavior comes from habits. So, what if we could learn how to build habits and design the new behaviors we want? In this podcast episode, our guest is BJ Fogg, Ph.D., the founder of Stanford’s Behavior Design Lab, and the world’s leading expert in habit formation. His new book Tiny Habits: Small Changes That Change Everything is based on over two decades of groundbreaking research and lays out a simple – yet powerful – behavior change model and a broader master system. His Tiny Habits® Method helps you create a three-step recipe designed to break big aspirations into specific micro behaviors; anchor them to a reliable prompt, and wire them in through a celebration with positive emotion.
People use Tiny Habits for a wide range of situations and challenges. It’s up to you on how you choose to use it and design the recipes that are right for you. However, the book includes over 300 sample Tiny Habit Recipes across 15 common life situations and challenges to spur your thinking.
These include recipes to build habits for:
- active older adults
- better sleep
- reducing stress
- cultivating brain health
- strengthening close relationships
- stopping habits that are getting in your way
We talk with BJ Fogg about his new habit book and:
- What Behavior Design is all about – and how he become interested in it
- How the Fogg Behavior Model works
- Why leaning on motivation and willpower aren’t reliable paths to behavior change
- How to build habits – and what emotion has to do with it
- Why the Tiny Habits Method is a valuable skillset
- Why some habits are Golden Behaviors and how to identify them and create them
- Why the Tiny Habits Method is transformational
- Why you’ll want to try The Super Fridge habit (among others in the Tiny Habits book)
- How he is personally using Tiny Habits today in his life
- His advice for people who want to create new behaviors this year
BJ Fogg, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford. In addition to his research, he teaches Boot Camps in Behavior Design for industry innovators and also leads the Tiny Habits Academy helping people around the world. One of Fortune’s “10 New Gurus You Should Know.”
Each year Dr. Fogg creates a new course to teach at Stanford, with topics ranging from mobile persuasion to health habits. His students have gone on to create successful products, including Instagram, that millions of people use every day. Today, Dr. Fogg is primarily interested in how human behavior works and how to help people acquire habits that lead to health and happiness. He has personally coached over 42,000 people in his behavior change method called “Tiny Habits.”
On Behavior Design
“It came together for me in 2007 and this model – it’s really easy to understand, and it applies to all types of behaviors and all habits. Basically, it’s three elements. There’s motivation to do the behavior, the ability to the behavior, and a prompt. And so, with any behavior, we’ll have Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt. And this is what we discovered in research at Stanford and in industry. And if you make a small tweak to any one of those elements, you can change behavior. So, for example, if you want to stop a habit, if you can remove the motivation, boom, it will stop. If you can’t do that, can you remove the ability to make it harder to do? You can stop it – or can you remove the prompt? You can also use the model for one-time behaviors for creating habits and so on. So, it’s really pretty straightforward, I think it’s an elegant model that you can apply in a whole bunch of ways.”
On Emotions & Creating Habits
“The common thing that you hear is repetition – and repetition is what creates habits. But that’s not actually accurate. When you look at the studies that people cite – when they’re saying that the studies show that repetition causes habits – it shows that it correlates with habits. So, they’re mixing up correlation and causation. And so, what causes the habit to form? It’s the emotion you feel when you do that behavior or immediately after, and the specific emotion and tiny habits that I advocate and teach people to feel as the feeling of success…That emotion rewires your brain, so your brain actually changes. It’s the sheathing along the neurons that the emotions will trigger a sequence of things that actually changes your brain and wires that habit in. So really emotions are the key to habit formation… if you understand that emotions create habits, that these positive emotions create habits, then it’s like a whole different experience. And that’s what really works as you get good at feeling good about your behavior – and about yourself…It’s an uplifting thing and that ripples out to other parts of your life.”
On Why Change with Tiny Habits Can Be … Fun?
“When people first saw the research I was doing on this and sharing Tiny Habits, I was probably a few thousand people in, coaching people individually through email… And people would write back and say, ‘Wow, this is actually fun. I never knew this was fun. Am I crazy? This is fun.“ And I’m like, ‘No, there is something fun about it.’ Not like riding a roller coaster or watching a funny movie. Well, I’ll make a guess. And you make a guess. I think the fun comes from a sense of discovery and playfulness that the tiny habits promote. And I think that can feel like fun.”
You’ll Want to Read This Book
Get Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg on Amazon.
It’s the best habits book available. It’s not a rehash of old research. It is groundbreaking with simple, practical, and effective tools backed by hands-on research. Build habits the right way.
For More Information on BJ Fogg. Ph.D.
Tiny Habits Coaching
Retirement Wisdom now has a Tiny Habits Certified Coach & a 4-Week Program to help you build the habits you want.
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About The Retirement Wisdom Podcast
Our retirement planning podcast features conversations with authors, thought leaders, and people creating meaningful second careers and interesting lives in retirement. Our mission is to share the wisdom that helps people retire smarter. We believe that balancing financial planning with attention to how people will invest their time and energy – especially when retiring early – is a wise move.
Thanks to our guests, our podcast was recently included on a list of 24 Inspiring Podcasts to Help You Thrive in 2020 by Thrive Global.
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Here’s the NBA Legend (10 championship rings…) who was kind enough to take the time to show a 16-year-old high school player how he mastered the bank shot by starting small.