We here at zoojoo.be are on a mission to help 100 Million people form great habits – not to just get 100 million or a billion users registered on our platform but to make a significant real world change in their lives by helping them form a habit. This is how we define our purpose and this is how we will make a difference.
It’s a worthy goal to achieve and part of it which make it so rewarding is its apparent unassailability. It’s difficult, so we have been told many times but the team knows that at the end it will be all worth it. The goal challenges and obsesses us in many ways. For example we are constantly obsessed about understanding how habits are made, why people change behavior, what is the role of motivation and rewards, how to move people to action, how to reduce time to action etc. One of the interesting research that grabbed our attention right away and which we have been studying since then was The Tiny habits programs designed and run by Prof. BJ Fogg of Stanford University.
BJ’s research is important because unlike other techniques, his doesn’t rely on a lot of motivation. He observes that motivation may not be the best of methods to bank upon when it comes to long term behavior change aka forming habits. Sure motivation works, but only when the behavior you want to change is one time or a short term one. For example if you want to paint the garden walls a sudden burst of motivation to do so will get the task done. But if you want to lose weight, motivation may get you started but once it tapers away so will your ability to reach the goal. What’s happening here is that like painting the wall, losing weight is not an easy task. It requires commitment. But unlike painting the walls, losing weight requires the commitment to be over a longer duration. Not a onetime burst that will get the job done on a Saturday afternoon but sustained effort over months.
One of the ways that BJ suggests is that instead of designing methods for the big goals or outcomes we should design for smaller behaviors that lead to it. So instead of planning for losing weight we should be planning to create habits of drinking more water, eating green vegetables, going for a run every day etc.
Don’t plan to lose weight; plan for some of the above less daunting activities and you will lose weight in due time. Now drinking enough water does not require a lot of motivation and this is where BJ’s method kicks in. You can form habit of drinking more water by simply linking it to some existing habits. Here are some examples:
Every time I switch on my office PC, I will go fill a bottle of water
Every time I fill a cup of coffee, I will drink a glass of water.
The method is simple and has a template:
Every time I [….an old habit…], I will [….new habit…]
Once you are able to peg your new behavior on some old one the all you need to do is track them and gradually you will learn to do them along with the old habit.
BJ’s methods are simple and effective.
You just need to remember that there are no big victories – It’s just the small daily victories that add up.