Small behaviors are key to long-term change. Focus on ability, not motivation. Change is a skill.
Failure to change behavior is a design flaw, not a personal one.
Aspirations -> Tiny Behaviors. Embrace mistakes as discoveries.
Long term change starts small.
After standing up from bed, I will say "I will love what happens today," and smile.
One post-it on the dashboard.
Simplicity changes behavior.
Anchor -> Tiny Action -> Instant Celebration
Bonsai tree habits. Habits you don't want to grow.
People change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.
Behavior = Motivation, Ability, Prompt
Motivation = desire. Ability = capacity. Prompt = cue.
Tackle behavior change in P -> A -> M order.
The easier a behavior is to do, the more likely the behavior will become habit.
Most behaviors become easier to do when repeated.
No behavior happens without a prompt.
"Show me exactly what you want me to do." Bathtub story.
“What surprised you?” This is my favorite teaching question because it can lead to a conversation that makes the learning experience better for everyone.
Motivation is unreliable for self-improvement.
The Motivation Monkey
We often overestimate our future motivation.
Aspirations = enduring desire to act. I aspire to be healthy.
Outcome = specific results we want. I want to run an ultramarathon.
Behaviors = things we do. I jog around the block.
The word "goal" can conflate aspirations with outcomes.
Generate a list of lots of behaviors that might move you towards your aspiration or outcome.
If I could wave a magic wand and get myself to do any behavior that moves toward my aspiration, what behavior would it be?"
What behaviors would you do one time? What new habits would you create? What habit would you stop?
After you come up with each behavior wish, think to yourself, Great. What else?
A golden behavior has great AME. I have the Ability to do it. I want to do it (Motivation). It's Effective in realizing my aspiration.
How effective is this behavior in helping me to reach my outcome or aspiration?
Can I get myself to do this?
Do I want to do this behavior?
Help people do what they already want to do.
Help people feel successful.
Lofty aspirations. Grounded behaviors.
Clarify your aspiration or outcome, generate a big set of behavior options, and match yourself with specific Golden Behaviors.
Ability is the most reliable factor in the B=MAP formula.
Your Ability Chain is only as strong as its weakest Ability Factor link.
Do you have enough time to do the behavior?
Do you have enough money to do the behavior?
Are you physically capable of doing the behavior?
Does the behavior require a lot of creative or mental energy?
Does the behavior fit into your current routine or does it require you to make adjustments?
What is making this behavior hard to do?
How can I make this behavior easier to do?
Imagine a big plant with small roots. When a powerful wind kicks up, the big plant might topple over because it’s not held firmly in place. And that’s how habit formation works. If you start with a big behavior that’s hard to do, the design is unstable; it’s like a large plant with shallow roots. When a storm comes into your life, your big habit is at risk. However, a habit that is easy to do can weather a storm like flexible sprouts, and it can then grow deeper and stronger roots. So if you haven’t gotten off the couch in a year, don’t start with seven minutes of strenuous activity.
Improve ability: Increase Skill, Get Tools or Resources, or Make the Behavior Tiny.
Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a global best seller not because her book focused on motivating people to keep their houses clean but because it focused on teaching them the block-and-tackle steps of how to tidy up.
Do not raise the bar prematurely. Don’t rush to make the behavior bigger. It’s always okay to not walk after putting on your shoes if that’s all you want to do for the day.
Starter steps can also work magic on things that don’t need to be habitual.
Don’t leave prompts to chance!
Person: relies on something inside of you to do a behavior.
However, if your survival is not dependent on your behavior, then the Person Prompt isn’t a good solution because our memories are notoriously faulty.
Context: External notifications.
"Hello! I want to respond to you, but please send me this request in an e-mail. (I use texting only for family and friends.)"
An Action Prompt is a behavior you already do that can remind you to do a new habit you want to cultivate.
After I hang up the phone, I will...
After I put my head on my pillow, I will...
Match the physical location
Match the frequency
Match the theme/purpose
Trailing Edge. Look for the last action you do in a behavior.
Brainstorm habits from existing anchors. Instead of finding a place for a new habit, explore new habits to build in an existing place.
Meanwhile Habits. Habits you do while waiting.
These new habits will start tiny and stay tiny—I have twenty seconds to wait for warm water. But don’t underestimate the power of Meanwhile Habits. A tiny behavior done consistently can made a big difference.
To change clients' behavior, use action prompts.
Find the people who already reliably do the behavior, and ask them, "At what point in your daily routine do you typically do this?"
Pearl Habits: use irritants as prompts and turn them into something beautiful.
Any time she felt defeated or attacked by her ex, she would immediately decide to do something nice for herself.
Celebrating at the right moment helps their babies learn more quickly.
Your brain is constantly assessing and reassessing the experiences, sights, sounds, smells, and movements in the world around you. Based on previous experiences, your brain has formed predictions about what you will experience in any given situation
Celebrations help you update those predictions.
Emotions create habits.
Scientists learned decades ago that rewards need to happen either during the behavior or milliseconds afterward.
Celebration is habit fertilizer. Each individual celebration strengthens the roots of a specific habit, but the accumulation of celebrations over time is what fertilizes the entire habit garden.
Celebrate with immediacy and intensity.
Celebration is a skill
To wire in a habit fast or help yourself remember, you need to rehearse the behavior sequence (the Anchor, then the new habit) and immediately celebrate. Repeat this sequence seven to ten times.
Extra credit: Celebrating at three different times: the moment you remember to do the habit, when you’re doing the habit, and immediately after completing the habit. Each of these celebrations has a different effect.
When you increase the intensity or duration of a habit, you are exerting yourself more. This is a good time to bring back celebration.
We have the opportunity to take actions every day that accumulate and drive our self-conception. Am I the type of person who...?
Feeling successful isn’t just a skill we use to lock in a habit—it’s also an antidote to the go-big-or-go-home culture and a new lens through which to see yourself.
Go to the messiest room in your house (or the worst corner of your office), set a timer for three minutes, and tidy up. After every errant paper you throw away, celebrate.
Celebrate each tiny success even if you don’t feel it authentically, because as soon as that timer goes off, I want you to stop and tune into what you are feeling.
Use pieces of songs you love for celebration ideas.
The formation time of a habit depends on three things: The person doing the habit. The habit itself (the action). The context.
Habits that grow and habits that multiply.
Success leads to success. The size of the success doesn’t seem to matter very much.
Start where you want to on your path to change. Allow yourself to feel successful. Then trust the process.
Change is a set of skills.
Behavior Crafting. Behavior Crafting skills relate to selecting and adjusting the habits you want in your life.
Self Insight. Understanding your preferences, strengths, and aspirations.
Process. Focused on adjusting to the dynamic nature of life in order to strengthen and grow your habits.
Context. redesigning your environment to make your habits easier to do
Mindset. your approach and attitude to change as well as your perception and interpretation of the world around you.
Identify behavior options
Match yourself with behaviors that will lead to your aspiration
Make the behavior easier to do
Knowing how many new habits to do at once and when to add more
Focus on what interests you.
Clarify your aspirations or desired outcomes
Understand what motivates you—i.e., know the difference between what you really want and what you think you should do
Knowing which new habits will have meaning to you
The new habit affirms a piece of the identity that you want to cultivate.
The new habit helps you reach an important aspiration.
The new habit is effective despite being tiny.
What is the tiniest habit I could create that would have the most meaning?
How to troubleshoot
How to revise your approach if a habit isn’t working
How to rehearse your habits
Knowing when to push yourself beyond tiny and ramp up the difficulty of the habit
Focus on finding your comfort edge in the moment so you can make the most skillful choice.
Don’t pressure yourself to do more than the tiniest version of your habit.
Don’t restrict yourself from going bigger if you want to do more.
If you do too much, make sure you celebrate extra hard.
Use emotional flags to help you find your edge.
What surrounds your habit?
How can I make this new habit easier to do?
What is making this new habit hard to do?
Question tradition. Who says you have to keep your vitamins in the kitchen or floss in the bathroom? Maybe your vitamins need to be next to your computer.
Invest in the gear you need.
Approaching change with an attitude of openness, flexibility, and curiosity
Being able to lower your expectations
Feeling good about your successes—no matter how small—by celebrating
Being patient and trusting the process of change
Embracing a new identity
Finish the sentence “I’m the kind of person who” with the identity—or identities—you’d like to embrace.
Go to events that gather people, products, and services related to your emerging identity.
Learn the lingo. Know who the experts are. Watch movies related to the area of change you’re interested
Revise your online bio. Post stuff related to your new identity.
Teach others or be a role model to galvanize your new identity. A social role is powerful.
Borrow knowledge from skills you've already mastered. How did you learn them? What worked? What didn't?