Friday, 1 June 2012

The Fantastic BJ Fogg – Habit Change Made Easy

The focus of this article is on how I changed my drinking habit but this model can be used with any habit.  Whether it’s one you want to decrease or one you want to increase i.e. exercise, meditation, healthy eating etc.

I used BJ Fogg’s habit change model to change the way I drink.  I used to be a heavy drinker but with the model I’m now a moderate drinker.  The change for the most part was easy.

I was the kind of drinker that couldn’t stop once I had started.  Once I had one drink, I would continue for at least another four or five.  Sometimes I woke up and couldn’t remember what had happened the night before. More often I would lose my weekends through feeling rotten and unmotivated. I did this for 25 years.


Sometimes I don’t have a drink for a week or so.  Not through avoidance, I just simply don’t have the urge.  When I do drink, most times I have just one or two glasses. When I’m out in a pub or a restaurant, quite often I start with a non-alcoholic beer.  If I’m there for a while, I’ll have water while I have an alcoholic drink.  I say ‘No’ most times when I don’t want to drink anymore.

Note place on my wine bottles
Gain more quality time
Drink soft drinks with alcohol
Celebrate ‘stopping’ after one glass
Get healthier
Say no to alcohol, when I don’t want it.

Understand my motivation to drink.  Can they be changed?

Always drink a soft drink with an alcoholic one, when I’m in a pub.

How BJ Fogg’s Habit Change Model helped me

The model helped me ask a better question. 

The model moved the focus on to ‘abilities’ (what action to take) from motivation.

  • Sometimes you can go backwards with habit change.  I did, in January I was on holiday for two weeks and I drank like my old self.  If I was relying on my motivation I would’ve probably thrown in the towel.  But luckily, I revisited my ‘abilities’ list and worked on ‘Saying No to a drink’ and ‘always having a soft drink with an alcoholic one’.  I didn’t blame myself.  I focused on building change instead.

‘Abilities’ really helped me take action, because it made action specific.

  • Stop after one glass’ was an easy action to implement at home.  It was clear, there was no wiggle room and it allowed me to use a trigger that worked every time.  I knew when I had achieved this and this allowed me to ‘celebrate’ the new habit too.

Clear ‘abilities’ make it easier to use triggers.

Triggers allow you to be consistent.  Consistency changes habits.

  • What’s a trigger?  Classic ones; When you sit on your sofa (this triggers), you then turn on the TV.  When you see a red light, you start to slow down and then stop.  And from the world of drinking, when your glass is empty, you fill it up.
  • Stop after one glass’ – I placed a notice on my wine bottle ‘only one glass’.  I saw it every time I started drinking and it got me to think, WHY?  Why, just one glass (no hangovers, feel great tomorrow and won’t be drunk tonight)?  This got me to do the new habit.  It got to think at the right time and it send my motivation sky-high, also at the right time. 
  • This trigger made it so easy, that it felt like I was cheating.  Remember, I hadn't been able to do this for 25 years.


If you want to change a habit; stop, start or modify one, this model makes it easier.  It's action focused and it helps make those actions clearer.  It moves the focus away from motivation (a very inconsistent quality and one that can lead to self-blame) to action.  It also promotes the use of triggers, which gets you to do new actions consistency.  Use the model.  It works.

Other links;

Do you drink too much;  answer this question - how many times have you been drunk in your life?

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