How to Change Our Behavior to Be Successful

Updated on February 1, 2019
Darleen Barnard profile image

Darleen Barnard is Certified Health Coach and Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in weight loss by using the power of the mind.

How to Change Our Behavior to be Successful

Simply knowing “how” to do something, doesn’t mean that we will do it. We may know how to walk, but how many of us make it a point to walk every day for exercise? We may know how to eat vegetables, but how many of us eat our veggies every day? Knowledge does not create action. We must change our behavior to reach out weight loss and fitness goals, or ANY goal for that matter! BJ Fogg developed a behavior change model that is easy to apply and highly relevant for anyone wanting to change their behavior. The Fogg Behavior Model can be used to help us manage the three critical elements of behavior change which will help us change our behavior to be successful

Fogg Behavior Model

The Fogg Behavior Model is a popular model used by behavior change experts to help their clients achieve their goals. Fogg’s model shows that changing our behavior requires 3 different things: motivation, ability, and a trigger. When people struggle to lose weight or start a new fitness journey, at least one of these three elements is missing.



Motivation is the first element of the model and is seen on the Y axis. We are all motivated by different things. Some of us may want to lose weight as a basic need – maybe our doctor has told us our health is in danger if we don’t lose weight. Some of us may want to lose weight for psychological reasons - to feel better about ourselves. Some of us may want to lose weight to make us more competitive in our favorite sport. Understanding and thinking about what motivates us and WHY we want to lose weight or get fit, is the first step to making a change.


Ability is the second element of the model and is seen on the X axis. It only makes sense that if we want to start doing something new, we must have the ability to do it. We all have different abilities. One person may have the ability to run a marathon and another person can only walk short distances. We all have different abilities and different starting points. Understanding our ability is the second step to making a change.


Triggers are the third element of the model. Although motivation and ability are on each axis, the trigger is required to actually get you to start! We all may find a different trigger helpful to get us started. A trigger could be setting an alarm on your phone, agreeing to meet a friend at the gym at 5, or planning to cook a healthy meal while you watch the 6:00 news. Triggers must capture our conscious attention and must be connected with the desired behavior. Identifying at least one trigger that will work for us is the third step to making a change.


Which element of the Fogg Behavior Model is the most difficult for you?

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Which element of the Fogg Behavior Model is the easiest for you?

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Many Ways to Succeed

As we look at the model above, we can see that it is possible to succeed in many different scenarios. If our motivation is high one day, we can push ourselves a little harder and try that new spin class at the gym. However, if our motivation is low, we need to identify things that are easier to do. For example, if we can’t find the motivation to go to the gym and do a strenuous workout, we need to find something easier to do, such as go for a walk after dinner. There is a ton of flexibility when using this model and with time and practice it will really help us change our behavior to be successful.

Dr. Fogg Explaining His Model

Take Action

Now that you understand the 3 elements necessary for behavior change, take action!

  1. Identify all of the things that are motivating you to lose weight or get fit. Write them down and put them somewhere you will see them every day to remind you “why” you want to lose weight. Put them in places where you need to be reminded to eat better or exercise such as on the refrigerator or next to your gym bag.
  2. Identify tasks that you can do that are easy for you to do and tasks that are hard to do. For those tasks that are difficult, is there any way to simplify them? For example, if want to run, can you start out by jogging or speed walking? Is there any way to make tasks more enjoyable? For example, if you want to start going to the gym after work, can you find a friend to go with you? Categorize your tasks by level of difficulty, easy, medium, and difficult, and select items from the list based on your level of motivation. When you motivation is high, select items from the difficult list and when your motivation is low, select items from the easy list.
  3. Identify triggers that you can use every day regardless of your level of motivation. On days when your motivation is high, simply setting an alarm may be a sufficient trigger. On days when your motivation is low, you may need a stronger trigger such as agreeing to meet a friend at the gym or promising your son you are going to play soccer with him.

We all know that motivation is important to lose weight and get fit. However, even if your motivation is low, it is possible to still succeed. Use the Fogg Behavior Model of motivation, ability, and triggers to help you change your behavior and reach your weight loss and fitness goals.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Darleen Barnard


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    • profile image

      Sharp Brain 

      19 months ago

      Great piece! I really liked your ideas.

      For me the morning time, especially if you get up earlier than usually mean the chance to meet a real you. Meditation is the best way to listen to your body and mind. To explore what you really want in a silent place. I just wanna add that when I face up with a dose of anxious that badly influences my sleep and calmness I use to practice yoga: that is a great way to get tone both mental and physical state. Slow morning allows you to focus on what really matters for you - on your dreams, goals, and feelings. It’s vital to develop your awareness in such a way.

      Stay mindful and fit!


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