How to Make Behavior Change Stick

Episode 152 1h 11m


We’ve all been there—changing an old habit or creating a new one can be challenging. And we often incorporate our lack of success at habit change into part of our identity and feeling bad about ourselves. But when we use science to understand the secrets to lasting behavior change, it’s clear there are ways to overcome the struggle and get the results we want. One of those secrets is building off of small changes over time. I did this myself, by doing pushups while I waited for the shower to heat up I went from being able to do one to now doing 50! Today, I talk to Dr. BJ Fogg about the science of lasting behavior change and the success he’s seen in those who’ve used his system. You may have already guessed what practice Dr. Fogg has found most successful: starting with tiny habits to create big change. He and I talk about his personal experience in discovering why this is the key to successful habit change and why we need a system with simplicity and specificity. Breaking our goals down into incredibly simple steps is essential to staying motivated and sticking with them over the long-term. Having trouble changing habits is not about a lack of willpower or discipline. I love that Dr. Fogg talks about this and that he shares why repetition is not the true driver behind creating new habits, emotion is. From learning how to stop a bad habit to starting a new, beneficial one, Dr. Fogg and I talk about using positive reinforcement and his tiny habits system to achieve both. Change is part of being human. I hope you’ll tune in to learn more about achieving the changes you want and making it easier on yourself, and more fun, along the way. This episode is brought to you by Bioptimizers, Paleovalley and Athletic Greens. Right now you can try Bioptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough for 10% off, just go to and use the code HYMAN10 at checkout. Paleovalley is offering 15% off your entire first order. Just go to to check out all their clean Paleo products and take advantage of this deal. Athletic Greens is offering Doctor’s Farmacy listeners a full year supply of their Vitamin D3/K2 Liquid Formula free with your first purchase, plus 5 free travel packs. Just go to to take advantage of this great offer.

Topics Covered

  • How BJ’s Mormon upbringing, homosexuality, and perfectionism set the groundwork for his work on behavior change

    (4:05 - 8:15)

  • Why feeling successful is the key to building new habits and behavior change

    (12:36 - 16:46)

  • The Fogg Behavior Model and the convergence of motivation, ability, and prompt

    (13:55 - 18:05)

  • Why specificity and simplicity are key to behavior change

    (19:13 - 23:23)

  • The pervasive myth that eating less and exercise more is the secret to weight loss

    (21:24 - 25:34)

  • Why behavior change is not about discipline and willpower

    (23:53 - 29:35)

  • Repetition does not create habits, emotion does

    (30:19 - 36:01)

  • Three ways to make lasting change

    (42:28 - 48:10)

  • Two overarching maxims for creating behavior change—help people do what they already want to do and help people feel successful

    (48:17 - 53:59)

  • Untangling vs. breaking habits

    (54:19 - 1:00:01)

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Ep. 152 - How to Make Behavior Change Stick