B = MAP : Behavior is the result of Motivation, Ability, and Prompt

First I read Mini Habits. Changed my life.

Then I read Atomic Habits. Meh. Nice explanations, Gave me some ideas. Massively positive reviews, but just didn’t do it for me in the long run.

Then I read Elastic Habits. Motivated the shit out of me. Quit pretty quickly. I made it too complicated.

Now I’m reading Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. Excited about it, but considering my history, that doesn’t mean that it’ll have a long term positive impact.

I’m only about a quarter of the way through, but I’m fascinated by the Fogg Behavior Model:

B = MAP.

Behavior is the result of Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt.

Motivation: not reliable. ’nuff said.

Ability: can be developed. I don’t remember if he says this or not, but I’m thinking that “ability” should include our belief that we have the ability. Or maybe that’s all that it is?

Prompt: something that happens just prior to the desired behavior that instigates the behavoir.

Like I said, I’m only partially through the book. While I have habits that I’m developing using methods from the other books I’ve read, the one that I’m working on now specifically using the Fogg Model is what he calls the Maui Habit:

“After I wake up and put my feet on the floor,
“I will say ‘It’s Going to be a Great Day'”

(Originally I changed it to “I’m going to make it a great day” to stress the fact that I am the one responsible for making it a great day. Then I decided to stop being so shallow and pedantic and go with the original.)

I’ve done it 5 times over the past 6 days. On the missed day, I literally forgot, and remembered about a half hour after getting out of bed. I did it as soon as I remembered, but I decided not to count it in the habit tracker that I use (Loop Habit Tracker for Android).

No, I don’t suddenly have a million dollars and six pack abs, but I did meet the woman of my dreams! (wait, never mind. that was 26 years ago.)

What I do have is the start of a healthy habit.

Because I have a prompt: feet on the floor for the first time.

Because I have the ability to do it: I can say 8 words pretty easily.

Because I have the motivation to do it: it’s a new behavior that I still want to do.

We all know that the motivation will drop off. But that’s OK, since the prompt will always be there, and the ability will be there too.

It can even be graphed out: as long as the prompt is there and the ability remains high enough, it’s going to happen.

Follow this link to see the graph.

I’m also paying close attention to how this model relates to my current bad habits.

Smoking is a good example. I haven’t smoked in 3 weeks as of this writing. This book has nothing to do with starting this quit, but it’s fascinating (and helpful!) watching how the model fits the behavior.

This is the longest I’ve gone without a cigarette in quite a while. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Motivation – there are multiple reasons to quit smoking, but reasons aren’t motivation. It took a global pandemic to get that going.

Ability – I’m using NRT (specifically, 4mg White Ice Mint Nicorette Gum) to enhance my ability to quit. Allen Carr and Joel Spitzer fanatics, don’t bother berating me in the comments. At this point, I’m perfectly happy using the gum for the rest of my life if i never have to smoke again.

Prompts – two big ones I’ve noticed are the nicotine cravings themselves and boredom. Just recognizing them as prompts helps me to deal with them quickly using the gum and ACT Defusion exercises.

I’ll be writing more about the book and model as I work my way through. What do you think about this so far?

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