Ever notice how easy it is to do something you really want to do? Like eat chocolate? I’m finding it harder and harder to motivate myself to do things I know I’ll WANT to have DONE. Like exercise. Or organize paperwork. Or deep cleaning. Is this so wrong?
BJ Fogg is a Stanford professor and expert in behavior change. He talks about persuading people to change their behaviors and has very interesting observations based on his work with individuals and companies. I’ll summarize but you can read the full article here. He’s also created a site for his project called “Three Tiny Habits.”
His thoughts are these:
1. Choose a simple behavior to target. And don’t we all say – I’m gonna lose 15 pounds, or I’m gonna exercise 5 days a week. What if we start with I’m going to increase the steps I walk in a day.
2. Learn what is preventing the target behavior. Answer: chocolate. But what BJ says is it boils down to three things: 1) lack of motivation, 2) lack of ability, or 3) lack of a well-timed trigger to perform the behavior. Hmmm, that last one is intriguing isn’t it?
3. Choose the right channel to motivate the behavior – what would be your trigger/place/motivator to make a change?
4. Start small and fast.
5. Build on small successes. Isn’t that the truth? Instead of beating myself up because I’m so behind on my paperwork, why not say, OK, today 15 minutes. Tomorrow, another 15 minutes. Martha Stewart (I can’t believe I’m quoting Martha) taught me something I thought was brilliant and I do it to do this day. When you have a task you gotta tackle – and don’t really want to do – give yourself permission to stop after 30 minutes. We can all clean out the junk drawer for 30 minutes, right? Chances are you’ll either get done, or be motivated to finish it. Viola.
So, today, when you’re making choices about what to do next, build in some triggers to do what you should do.
And one of those things sure better be eating some chocolate.