BJ Fogg, the founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, teaches industry innovators how human behavior really works. After 20 years of research and feedback from coaching 40 people, he has put what he's learned and advises in this attractively designed book. It is already a best seller.
It is easy to talk about changing our ways but very hard to put them into daily practice. Our predicament is illustrated by this story by Joseph Goose from our book 100 Ways to Keep Your Soul Alive:
"The young salesman approached the farmer and began to talk excitedly about the book he was carrying." This book will tell you everything you need to know about farming," the young man said enthusiastically. "It tells you when to sow and when to reap. It tells you about the weather, what to expect and when to expect it. The book tells you all you need to know."
"Young man," the farmer said, "that's not the problem. I know everything that is in that book. My problem is doing it."
BJ Fogg believes that when we commit to a behavioral change we need to begin now and start small. He explains that myths, misconceptions, and well-meaning but unscientific advice sets us up to fail:
"If you've attempted change in the past and haven't seen results, you may have concluded that change is hard or that you can't succeed because you lack motivation. Neither is accurate. The problem is with the approach itself, not with you. . . . It's a design flaw – not a personal flaw."
The key is to make tiny changes, right now, where you are. He suggests a basic practice to get you going through three steps:
"1. Anchor Moment. An existing routine (like brushing your teeth) or an event that happens (like a phone ringing). The Anchor Moment reminds you to do the new Tiny Behavior.
"2. New Tiny Behavior. A simple version of the new habit you want, such as flossing one tooth or doing two push-ups. You do the Tiny Behavior immediately after the Anchor Moment.
"3. Instant Celebration. Something you do to create positive emotions, such as saying, "I did a good job!" You celebrate immediately after doing the new Tiny Behavior."
Fogg goes on to explain his Behavior Design models, which are supported by his research. We found this information fascinating and eminently practical, especially the chapters on motivation and prompts. The author succeeds in reframing change as something to be embraced and celebrated.
Fogg hits high stride when he lists tiny habits for:
- new managers
- better sleep
- reducing stress
- cultivating brain health
- strengthening close relationships
- staying focus
- and more
These 300 recipes for 15 life situations and challenges are worth the price of the entire book. See the excerpt for "Tiny Habits for Active Older Adults."