When Distractions Become Habits

Article by , February 7, 2021

When Distractions Become Habits

To be sure, some behaviors make for good habits. This includes the behaviors you stopped doing, especially when distractions become habits. In today’s business world, this can make a big difference in your success.

In his recent book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2020) behavior scientist BJ Fogg, PhD, demonstrates how behavior happens when motivation, ability, and prompt converge at the same moment. Fogg illustrates this in the Fogg Behavior Model, whereby motivation is your desire to do the behavior. Ability is your capacity to do the behavior. Prompt is your cue to do the behavior.

You see, the more motivated you are to do a behavior, the more likely you are to do the behavior. When motivation is high, people not only take action when prompted, they can also do difficult things. We’ve seen this happen over and over again this year. People learning new habits to protect themselves, and others. Wearing a mask in public places. Frequently and thoroughly washing their hands.

But, when a task is more difficult to complete—when a new behavior is more challenging to do—the less likely we are to do it. Keeping space between yourself and another person is not always easy when they are not also motivated to do the same.

Motivation and ability work together. If you lack ability, you need greater motivation. Likewise, if you lack motivation, you need greater ability. They are continuous variables, triggered by a prompt. You see, no behavior happens without a prompt. This is great news when you want to disrupt, or change, a behavior. Removing a prompt is sometimes the best course to stop a bad habit.

Dr. Maynard Brusman

Consulting Psychologist & EQ Executive Coach and Mindful Leadership Consultant
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