Box of Crayons Blog


New Plans & Habits

Did you know that Duke University estimated that habits shape 45% of the choices we make every day?

In January especially, many of us look for ways to change our behaviour – to find new ways of working smarter rather than harder, or to get rid of some habits that don’t serve us well. Come February, when many of our resolutions have gone by the wayside, we might be tempted to blame it all on a lack of motivation.

However, if you were BJ Fogg, you wouldn’t.

BJ is one of the biggest names in behaviour change. He teaches at Stanford University where he leads the Persuasion Technology Lab. He also runs the website Tiny Habits. BJ firmly believes that motivation isn’t necessary in order to perform a simple act; all people need is a reminder.

He says the two far more influential factors are the simplicity of the behaviour in question, and the trigger (or reminder), to enact that behaviour. If our new behaviour requires extra work, we’re more likely not to do it.

We need to make our desired behaviour easier – that the key to lasting change does not lie in planning big, monumental changes, but in thinking really, really small. You want to exercise more? Start with one sit-up a day. Then celebrate it immediately. BJ has a few suggestions here!

And BJ isn’t the only one that talks about triggers. According to Charles Duhigg, author of the fantastic book The Power of Habit, rather than focusing only on the new behaviour, we need to become aware of the trigger that sets off the old behaviour. When you become conscious of the patterns of old habits you can be mindful about replacing them with a new habit.

If you’re planning to take on new projects this year and want to break old habits, ask yourself:

  • What triggers your old, unwanted behaviour?
  • What simple and easy-to-implement behaviour can you substitute?
  • How will you celebrate it?

If you want to know more, listen to my interview with BJ here and my interview with Charles Duhigg.


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