• cstollenmaier

Three Things That Guarantee You'll Follow Through on Your Goals

Updated: Dec 8, 2018

1, 2, 3
Make sure you've got these three things, and you're guaranteed to make it happen!


Behavior scientist Dr. BJ Fogg developed a behavior model for explaining why a desired behavior does or does not occur based on 3 factors: Motivation, Ability, and a Trigger. The simple formula to describe this model is B=MAT (Behavior equals Motivation times Ability times Trigger). That is to say, if you want a certain behavior to occur in your life, you need to make sure there are three things present: motivation to do it, the ability to do it, and something to get you to do it.

1. Triggers

Triggers are anything that initiate the behavior. It can be an alarm, a reminder on your phone, a behavioral context--anything that will cue the behavior, consciously or unconsciously, is a trigger. Your body uses triggers to get you to eat, sleep, use the restroom, change position, scratch an itch, drink water, and much more. I strongly recommend focusing on behavioral context as your trigger of choice, in order to harness the power of ritual and habit. It is much easier to ignore an external trigger such as an alarm or a reminder than it is to break your rituals.

2. Motivation

This one is easy: Motivation is how much you want to do the thing

3. Ability

Just as easy: Ability is how easy it is for you to do it

The last two factors, Motivation and Ability, have an inverse relationship. The more motivation you have to engage in a given behavior, the less ability you need. Stated another way, the more motivated you are, the more difficult the task can be. Conversely, the less motivation you have to engage in the given behavior, the more ability you need (the easier it needs to be).

It’s important at this point that I clarify my perspective on this: I am all about increasing motivation. When you have so little interest in doing something that you practically need it to be done for you, it is very difficult to find joy in doing it. And if you can’t enjoy it, there’s not much point in allowing it to be a part of your life--that is, if you want a life you enjoy!

Increasing motivation brings joy and fulfillment to the tasks, and makes them worth doing. Notwithstanding, ambitious people like you and I want to accomplish much. As a result, we need to be efficient in our activities. So while I offer much more attention within these pages to increasing motivation, increasing ability is also a vital step to achieving success. But it shouldn’t be the only step.

Much better to utilize multiple methods in tandem to increase both motivation--and thus engagement and enjoyment--and ability simultaneously. Increasing ability is a way of streamlining the behavior change process; smoothing out the bumps and holes in the path to make success that much easier. Increasing motivation is a way of making the behavior change process delightful and exciting; creating beauty and joy on the path to make it one that you actually want to be on.


Step 1: Pick a behavior you want to follow through on

Step 2: Choose a time you can commit to making it happen regularly and connect it to something else you always do at that time (establish the Trigger)

Step 3: Remind yourself how much you want to do it, and think about why it matters to you (increase your Motivation)

Step 4: Think of one way you can make the behavior easier to accomplish, and implement it (increase your Ability)

If you liked what you read here, then you'll love my new book, Enough! Stop Failing, Start Following Through: A guide for people who are tired of letting themselves down. Available January 11. Pre-order your copy now at or wherever you get your eBooks.

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