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Kwik & Easy Way to Understand Your Habits with BJ Fogg

BJ Fogg is a behavioral scientist and author with deep experience in innovation and teaching, who also runs a research lab at Stanford University.

BJ is the author of a seminal book, Persuasive Technology, about how computers can be designed to influence attitudes and behaviors, that inspired an annual global conference on the topic. Fortune Magazine named BJ a ‘New Guru You Should Know‘ for his insights about mobile and social networks.

"You can change your habits easier than you think."


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  • Habits are things we do automatically, without thinking.
  • Think about your habits as plants: your collection of habits is like a garden. You can avoid doing anything to the garden and let anything grow, or deliberately design how you want the garden to grow.
  • “I want to read more” is an abstract concept. To transform it into a habit, you need to create a tiny, specific step you can take first, like opening the book.
  • You also need to figure out where the tiny habit will fit into your life, e.g. you could open your book after you sit down on the subway every day.
  • Tiny steps are not hard to sustain, as they require very little energy and effort. If you do the tiny version of an activity, then you can always do more.
  • Pick the tiniest thing that has meaning to you. This could mean after you click your seatbelt, you turn on the audiobook player, and listen to one whole paragraph, or two.


  • Use celebration. Whenever you take a tiny step towards a habit, try firing up a positive emotion—this will make your brain want to do it again.
  • Use anything you can in the moment to cause you to feel a positive emotion.
  • Pairing a behavior with positive emotion will boost your brain pathways with dopamine, and make them more reliable over time.
  • Using emotion is a different way of looking at habits, outside of the simple repetition that is commonly quoted as the best way to form a habit.
  • Remember all learning is state dependent: information by itself is forgettable, but information tied to emotion becomes unforgettable.
  • People who resist celebration when trying to form habits are not getting as much out of the learning process as possible.


  • How long it takes you to form a habit depends on the intensity of your emotion while doing a behavior, rather than the duration you do it for, or the frequency.
  • Try to inject emotion as you’re doing the behavior or immediately afterwards, so your brain associates positive feelings with the thing you want to become a habit.
  • There is no evidence that frequency of behavior creates habits: it is often quoted that it takes 21 days, 30 days, or 66 days to create a habit, but this is conceptually wrong.
  • Using the number of days concept also reinforces that habit creation should be about suffering and endurance, but these negative states won’t assist your brain to wire in habits.
  • You can create habits in a positive, uplifting way.
  • If there is a life-threatening or serious addiction or habit problem, please seek professional help rather than relying on any book.
  • Some habits are easier to shake or create than others: untangling negative habits can be a difficult process.


  • BJ Fogg’s model: Motivation > Ability > Prompt
  • Phase 1: Focus on creating new habits
  • Phase 2: Focus on stopping the behavior
  • Phase 3: Swap the behavior—this step is only to be used after trying the first two.
  • You can change your habits easier than you think. There’s a process and system, you don’t have to guess.



  • Take a screenshot of this episode, tag us (@jimkwik and @bjfogg) and tell us your favorite aha! moment. We’ll repost some of our favorites!

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