Mind & Body

The Fogg Method Is the 3-Step Technique for Changing Behavior

We all have bad habits we could change. (Late-night snacking, anyone?) We could all use a few more healthy habits in our lives too. (You know the ones — working out, reading more.) Developed by BJ Fogg, a Ph.D. from Stanford, the Fogg Method (which informs his Tiny Habits program) claims to be able to help you change a behavior in three steps. It's all about starting small.

Here's the Actual Method

1. Get specific.

What do you want to accomplish? Target a very specific goal and translate your goal into behaviors. For example, let's say you don't work out ever (no judgment). Instead of setting a goal to workout for 30 minutes every day, try taking a 3-minute walk each day or even just putting running shoes on every day. As Rock Health explains, "Since this habit is so easy, [people] experience success and their sense of ability raises, motivating them to do harder tasks and allowing them to stay above the threshold."

2. Make it easy.

The easier the behavior is, the more likely you are to actually do it. Duh. But how do you make something easier? According to the Fogg Method site, you can "consider options for adjusting the environment, the actor, and the behavior itself." Going back to our exercise example, making your 3-minute walk easier could mean doing it at the same time every day or listening to a song by your favorite band during the walk. Dr. Fogg believes "simplicity changes behavior."

3. Set a trigger.

According to Dr. Fogg, no changes happen without a trigger. What will prompt the behavior that you're working into your life? Some triggers are natural, but others you must design to make work for you. You need the trigger because willpower alone just won't cut it. "Forming habits is not about willpower," Dr. Fogg says, "it's about design and revision."

But That's Not All

The best way to really get into the Fogg Method seems to be by participating in Dr. Fogg's Tiny Habits program (which is totally free, by the way — this isn't an ad). Dr. Fogg, whom Fortune Magazine named one of the 10 New Gurus You Should Know in 2008, specializes in changing behavior, and he helps people do it every week with Tiny Habits. The 5-day course starts every Monday. If you're serious about getting some new, positive habits in your life (it's never too late to tackle those new year's resolutions), what have you got to lose?

Get stories like this one in your inbox or your headphones: sign up for our daily email and subscribe to the Curiosity Daily podcast

Dr. Fogg has put his program into a book, which is available in December 2019: "Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything." We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto January 20, 2017

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.