When we ask people to make behavioral changes like asking them to walk 30 minutes a day, or eat 5-10 fruits and vegetables a day, or drink 8 glasses of water a day we are asking a LOT! Stanford behavioral change specialist, BJ Fogg would say when we do this, we’re setting people up to fail.
While attending the American Journal of Health Promotion Conference I was introduced to the cutting edge work of BJ Fogg who has been turning the world of behavioral change upside down. Hold onto your hats folks, because everything you’ve EVER thought about behavioral change is now is about to be transformed due to one very simple reason: Trying to MOTIVATE people, for the most part, according to Fogg, DOESN’T work.
The funny thing is we knew this all along. If we really paid attention to the small percentage of people who make it ALL the way through our programs and actually lose weight and keep it off, or who actually start walking 30 minutes a day and continue to do so a year from now, or who take up eating 5-10 fruits and vegetables a day and are doing this a month from now – we’d know that trying to motivate people, who aren’t motivated already, doesn’t work in the long run. In the LARGE majority of cases, it isn’t going to bring about SUSTAINABLE behavioral change.
How many times have you told people to drink 8 glasses of water a day and – percentage wise – how many of those folks actually do it? Motivating people sounds like a nice idea and it IS a PART of BJ Fogg’s behavioral model (B=mat or Behavior equals motivation, ability and a trigger) but he downplays motivation it is just not all that reliable! Motivation levels fluctuate wildly in ALL people all the time and there’s also a dark side to this “WE MUST GET PEOPLE MOTIVATED APPROACH: When people DON’T feel motivated and when they DON’T do the behavior that they’ve been told to do they feel WORSE than before they started. This is the behavioral change conundrum, the dark underbelly of behavioral change, that we ALL know exists, but no one is willing to acknowledge it.
BJ Fogg is addressing this issue big time and he’s come up with a brilliant solution which he calls “Tiny Changes.” During the course of the next installments, I will describe this process and show you exactly how it works.