BJ Fogg’s theory on behaviour design focuses on his simple equation that a behaviour is equal to a combination of motivation, ability, and trigger.

I’m going to talk more about ability. It is important that you understand motivation and trigger as an essential part of BJ Fogg’s theory on behaviour design.

His equation is fairly simple but it is extremely powerful when applied to a variety of different situations. The combination of motivation, ability and trigger are key aspects of anyone doing any behaviour. Ability is one of those pillars of BJ Fogg’s equation and you want to think in terms of simplicity is the key factor in whether or not somebody is going to have the ability to perform a specific task. We can talk more on whether or not someone is going to have the ability to perform a task so the simpler you can make something, the easier it’s going to be for them to follow through on that. We’ve talked about that on the last section, with the Activation theory that if you want to start a habit, you want to make it as simple as possible for you to begin so that you are going to minimize the amount of roadblocks that come up when you’re trying to adopt that new behaviour habit.

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We all have ability. The difference is how we use it. Photo credit: www.huffingtonpost.com

BJ Fogg breaks down those resources that are required for you to complete a behaviour.

1. Time
2. Money
3. Physical Effort
4. Brain Cycles
5. Social Deviance
6. Non-Routine

When we’re thinking in terms of these 6 resources, they really take in all the aspects of the behaviour that someone has when they’re trying to complete a task. Each behaviour is going to have various elements to those, as well as the individual. They’re going to bring their own elements to the table based on the resources that they have available.

I think that one of the important things is that these can really change from moment to moment, over the course of the day, over the course of someone’s lifetime. The more that we can avoid relying on using these key resources as a decision factor in whether or not we’re going to follow through on a behaviour, the more successful we’re going to be.

Let’s take a look at time.

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When someone feels rushed, they’re just not going to feel that they have the time available required to perform a specific task. Photo credit: www.myadroit.com

The more time it takes for someone to complete the behaviour, the harder it’s going to be for someone to follow through on it. Someone feels rushed. They’re just not going to feel that they have the time available required to perform a specific task. This can feel fairly relative and subjective based on the individual. Someone may see 5 minutes as being extremely short and doable while someone else can look at it as way too much time. It’s subjective based on the individual and based on their perception of time. That time is going to change through the day as well. Maybe you feel that you have the time to do that behaviour if it’s only going to take 5 minutes at the beginning of the day, because you’re looking at all the things that you need to do and you feel that you have more time. At the end of the day, you feel rushed, you have a sensation that you’re running out of time. You’re not going to be as likely to do that. One of the things that you can do is do something earlier in the day. Do something when you feel like you have more time, especially if it’s something that’s more doable. You want to reduce the amount of time to complete the behaviour or to start the behaviour to make it simpler for someone to follow through on it.

Read Also: BJ Fogg section on Ability – Part 2

Money is a key factor whether or not anyone can follow through a behaviour. If the behaviour is going to a gym, and exercising and you have to pay a high monthly fee for the membership for that gym, and you feel that you don’t have the money available, that’s going to be a fairly scarce resource for you at that time. You’re not going to feel like you’d have the ability to follow through on that behaviour if you have scarce financial resources – that’s required for you to complete that behaviour. If you want someone to follow through on that behaviour, including yourself or for someone else, you are going to want to reduce the money that’s required to complete that. We see this all the time with large purchases where it’s broken up in payment plans. Someone wants to sell you a car and not everyone has the cash available to pay the full purchase price – so it’s broken down into payment plans. That reduces the amount of the resources required in that given moment for someone to complete that behaviour of purchasing a car.

So for yourself, perhaps if you want to think in terms of, you want someone to make a much smaller commitment and once you have them making that commitment, going back to Robert’s book on Influence, then you can build on that commitment that you are someone that they are willing to work with. If they’re going to be consistent with that behaviour, they would want to work with you on future projects. You want to reduce the amount of financial commitment required for someone to follow through on that behaviour. It’s going to greatly increase your success rate.

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Once you have commitment, you need the discipline and hard work to get you there. Photo credit: http://www.prosearchnetworkgroup.com/

Physical Effort. Going back to the gym. You feel that you are tired and you don’t have the physical effort available for you to complete that project. It’s going to be a scarce resource for you and it’s going to be eliminating factor. Perhaps money is not the issue. You feel like you have the time. But if you don’t feel like you physically have the energy to follow through on that exercise workout, you’re going to be much less likely to follow through on that behaviour. If you want to increase your success rate of following through that behaviour, you are going to want to try to schedule going to the gym at a time when you feel like you have a high energy rate – whether that’s in the morning or right after work. That’s going to be relative to you and it’s going to be based on you as an individual. That could vary from but you’re going to be much more likely to follow through on the behaviour of doing the workout if you can target it when someone feels like they have the physical effort available to complete the behaviour.