In part two of this series of summarizing my understanding of the book "Tiny Habits” by BJ Fogg, I’m going to lead an exercise for figuring out what behaviors will best help you form habits that support your goals.
First, let’s evaluate the word “goal”. “Goal” is actually a bit too vague for Fogg and he encourages identifying “Aspirations” or “Outcomes” rather than goals. An aspiration is an abstract desire, while an outcome is a concrete result. Aspirations and outcomes are different from behaviors in that they are not something you can just do . Eg, “get better sleep” is an aspiration or outcome, whereas “go to bed before 10pm” is a behavior.
So the first step in this exercise is: choose an aspiration or outcome you’d like to have in your life or at SourceCred.
I’m going to use an example from when I practiced this exercise by myself earlier this week. I asked myself “What do I most want SourceCred’s product to do for me?”
The aspirations/outcomes that came up for me were:
- Help me log and track my contributions.
- Help me signal contributions I value.
- Help me identify what contributions make a lasting impact on the project.
I’ll use the first one “log and track my contributions” as my example for this exercise, but you can choose any aspiration/outcome you’d like. Maybe you have a different answer to that question “What do I most want SourceCred’s product to do for me?” or maybe you have a different aspiration in your personal life. Feel free to share in the comments too!
If you’re choosing your own, get a piece of paper, or whiteboard, or drawing app; and add your chosen aspiration/outcome to the top or center of the page.
Next we’re going to identify behaviors that support your chosen aspiration/outcome. In this phase, we’re brainstorming so anything goes. Imagine that you have a magic wand and with it you could easily get yourself to do aaaannnnyyyy behavior you want. Write down what you already do, write down what you wish you could do. Write down one time behaviors, and behaviors that could make good habits. Write down behaviors you want, and behaviors you already do that get in your way.
Get it all out there on the page, creating a “flock” of behaviors flying around your chosen aspiration/outcome.
For my aspiration of “Easily Log/Track my SourceCred Contributions” here is the flock of behaviors I came up with:
- Write down an “info card” for every contribution I make
- Make a google form to help myself easily log contribution info and populate it to a spreadsheet for easy reference.
- Hire an assistant to virtually follow me around and write down every contribution I make.
- Use didathing super intentionally as a way to track my contributions rather than to get cred for them.
- Write a weekly “contribution report” for myself.
- Have an AI that tracks and goes over my contributions with me regularly
- Set up a Coordinape instance for SourceCred (not sure Coordinape actually does contribution tracking?)
- Regularly review/edit/add-to an auto-generated list of my contributions that was tracked by the algorithm/platforms.
Here’s a picture of my notes:
Pick a handful of the behaviors from your brainstormed flock that resonate with you most. If you can, write them down on little strips of paper or index cards.
From my own flock of behaviors, I’ll choose:
- Hire a contribution-tracking assistant.
- Use didathing for tracking.
- Make a weekly contribution write up.
- Use a google-form-to-spreadsheet for tracking.
Next, on a new sheet of paper draw a chart with a vertical axis for “Impact” (low-high) and a horizontal axis for “Feasibility” (low-high).
Impact is how well will this behavior actually supports your aspiration/outcome. Feasibility is a combination of ability and motivation; can I really get myself to do this behavior?
Next, take one of your behaviors and place it on the Impact Axis depending on how much effect you think that behavior will have on your outcome. Then, slide it across the Feasibility Axis depending on how easy/hard it is for you to do that behavior. Do this for each of the behaviors you wrote down on pieces of paper. (If you didn’t write the behaviors on separate pieces of paper, you can use a star for things you find impactful and a circle for things you find feasible on your original flock of behaviors page. However, I got a lot of value out of actually doing the exercise with a tactile graph.)
The behaviors that are the highest impact and the most feasible are called “Golden Behaviors”. On the graph, it’s easy to see that your golden behaviors cluster in the top-right quadrant of the graph. Circle that area and label it “Golden Behaviors”. Any of the behaviors that end up in that area are the ones you should start with to create your habits. If there are no behaviors in the golden quadrant, go back to your Flock of Behaviors page and choose or generate different behaviors to put on the graph.
Here’s how my chosen behaviors played out:
As you can see, I had low motivation/ability to write up a weekly report for myself of all my contributions, or to have someone follow me around all-day every day tracking my contributions for me. In the end, my golden behaviors were: to use a google form/spreadsheet to track my contributions manually as they happen for personal reference, or have the ability to look through a list of my contributions and edit them.
I fudged a little, because technically editing an auto-generated list of my contributions isn’t really feasible because that feature doesn’t exist! (At least not accessibly enough for me.) However, this whole exercise helped me understand exactly what I wish the technology were doing for me when it comes to logging/tracking my contributions and was the answer to my true question. If that feature did exist, thus creating ease of ability; I could easily use prompts to close the prompt-ability-motivation loop and be regularly editing and reviewing my contributions to keep them accurate. Frankly, if the ability was there, we could easily design a prompt within the technology as well, and help everyone who has the motivation to track their own contributions do that behavior habitually.
Congratulations! You’ve now learned a bit about how to brainstorm and choose behaviors that support your aspirations and could help you achieve your desired outcomes. In the next section of this series, I’ll talk about how you can take golden behaviors from your graph and turn them into tiny habits that get you above the action line every time.