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In Tiny Habits, Dr. BJ Fogg tells us:

“In my own work, I focus on three sources of motivationTo help you visualize this, I created a model called the PAC Person.”

BJ tells us about the Motivation PAC Person:

  • Person – “Motivation comes from within. You already want to do the action.”
  • Action – “Motivation can come from a benefit or punishment associated with a behavior.”
  • Context – “Motivation can come from our context (our current environment).”

Big spikes of motivation are awesome for doing really hard things—once… In Behavior Design, we’ve named this temporary surge in motivation the Motivation Wave. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before: Your motivation crested, then came crashing down. And maybe you blamed yourself for not sustaining it. You’re not to blame. This is how motivation works in our lives. Each year almost one hundred million people enroll in an online course, but the vast majority drop out. Most studies show that less than 10 percent cross the finish line… you overestimated future motivation. It happens to the best of us. You are not dumb or frivolous or easily hoodwinked. You are human… I want people to know that if they focus only on motivation they are ignoring two key components of what actually drives behavior—ability and promptYou can’t rely on motivation alone to create lasting change because you probably can’t sustain it and you might not be able to manipulate or design for it reliably. And I hope you see that this is not a character flaw. It’s human nature… We are not the problem. Our approach to change is. It’s a design flaw—not a personal flaw.

I love the phrase “It’s a design flow – not a personal flaw”. I also believe it is 100% true.

When motivation surges or you experience a motivation wave that is a great time to do a one-time behavior that is hard.

In general, we tweak prompts and ability before trying to tweak motivation since it tends to be so unreliable. Here today and gone tomorrow.

If you must manipulate motivation we recommend you try to do something you already want to do, look for the benefits, and structure your environment to support you.

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Episode 20