How to Start a Good Habit

Resolutions are so last year; here’s a simple formula from a Stanford instructor for starting a new habit.

As you can tell by many Facebook posts and tweets, making a New Year’s resolution is not in style anymore. It’s because people make resolutions but usually don’t stick to them.

I saw a joke on Facebook that explains this. It said that someone was building a resolution gym. It’s a gym for the first two months but then turns into a bar the rest of the year.

I’m in a health-management program called Health Management Resources. We have a lot of lessons in psychology. We share ideas about how to exercise more and eat healthier.

The registered dietician who taught the last class went into great detail about how to change habits.

She referenced a Stanford instructor B.J. Fogg. He teaches people how to form new habits using a simple formula.

His formula is b=mat.

b = behavior, m = motivation, a = ability and t = trigger.

To change a behavior, you need to have a motivator. For example, when you do the new behavior, do a little cheer for yourself. “Yeah me!” Another motivator is the result. If you lose 10 pounds, you get to wear smaller-size jeans.

Next is ability. This means you need to be able to actually easily do the new habit or behavior. If you want to ride your bike every day, make sure you have a bike and a tire pump so if the tire is flat you can inflate it. Also, if you live in a rainy climate, riding your bike daily might not make a lot of sense.  In this case, you might pick a new habit to start like writing your exercise bike while watching a Netflix movie.

Lastly, according to Fogg, you need a habit trigger. An example is that the smartphone alarm sounds and then you walk the dog.

Some other tips are habits take a lot of time to change and keep the new habit simple. If you try to change a lot of things, it is very difficult.

I actually used this formula to get in the habit of riding my exercise bike more and as a result I typically ride it eight miles a day now. This has become part of my lifestyle and it’s not a chore anymore. The habit formula really does work.

It's no wonder. Fogg has impressive credentials. He's on a Fortune top 10 gurus to know list and the founder of Instagram is a former student.

If you want more information about B.J. Fogg, his website is www.bjfogg.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz January 15, 2013 at 01:03 AM
It's always a choice.
Sheila Sanchez January 15, 2013 at 01:45 AM
I've tried all of your tips, Michelle and it's working. It helps tremendously that I now have a treadmill and get on it when my alarm goes off for walking time! I put on the music and start sweating! Thanks for the post!
Esmée St James January 15, 2013 at 06:28 AM
Definitely it is all about choice, there are many ways to motivate oneself all of which start with our thoughts. Especially the ones that feel good. The constant conversation going on in our head is more powerful than we know. We get what we think about so think about what you want rather than what you don't want. Works like a charm!
Michelle McIntyre January 15, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Sheila, it's awesome that you've started an exercise habit kicked off by an alarm. That uses the B.J. Fogg formula.
Sheila Sanchez January 15, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Thanks, Michelle. Appreciate the encouragement! Keep it coming!


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