Everyone has a list of habits they would like to create or destroy in themselves.  Whether it is exercising more, eating healthier, stopping smoking or treating your spouse better, change is HARD.

B.J. Fogg at Stanford’s Persuasive Tech Lab has been tackling this very problem and has released a behavior grid to guide people through making these changes.

He breaks down behavior into motivation, ability and triggers.

Motivation is broken down into sensation (pleasure/pain), anticipation (hope/fear) and social cohesion (acceptance/rejection).  In other words if you make a promise to your friends, social cohesion becomes a motivator to help you follow through.

People typically think that ability should be improved by training and practice.  But Fogg has discovered that it is much more effective to focus on making the task easier and more accessible.    For example, instead of trying to get yourself to do a full workout every day, promise yourself that you will do at least one push-up every day.  This will make it easier to establish the habit and naturally lead towards bigger workouts.

Lastly, triggers are cues, prompts, call to actions, requests, etc.  When establishing a new habit your want to link that habit to a trigger that occurs in your daily routine (i.e,. eating breakfast) or to your environment (i.e., whenever I walk into the kitchen).

Click on the box that is appropriate to your situation to see Bogg’s recommendations.