According to B.J. Fogg, a behavioural science researcher at Stanford University and founder of the Behavior Design Lab, lack of motivation is not a barrier to action.
Generally, we believe that it is because we are motivated that we take action. However, in his book Tiny habits (2019), B.J. Fogg explains that motivation is a complex psychological force, which is not the only one responsible for taking action.
Motivation is powerful, allowing us to project ourselves into the future, to choose our objectives (identifying the reasons that make us want to act) but also unreliable. Indeed, motivation works hand in hand with the emotional system: it is therefore very sensitive to context, which makes it fluctuating and therefore unpredictable .
One day, we are infinitely motivated to take action; the next day (or even a few hours later), not at all.
We would be able to take action when three ingredients come together at the same time: (1) motivation, (2) a sense of capability, and (3) triggers.
Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt
In other words, in order for a behaviour to occur, one would have to be motivated by the action, consider oneself capable of carrying it out and be prompted to do so (by an internal trigger: a thought, or external: a reminder on the phone, a specific situation...).
Good news: according to B.J. Fogg, it is possible to take action with a low level of motivation, by insisting on the 2 other variables in the equation: on the one hand, making the action a simple behavior to increase the feeling of ability (the Ability variable) and on the other hand, making sure that the trigger (the Prompts variable) does not fail and actually provokes the action.
With the general idea that the more ambitious a behaviour is, the less chance we have of achieving it, B.J. Fogg encourages us to simplify as much as possible the new behaviours we want to implement. According to him, the sense of ability(Ability in B = MAP) is the most reliable variable in the equation.
First of all, we must ask ourselves why the new behaviour, which is so difficult to achieve, is too ambitious and identify the obstacle (s): what are the reason(s) that prevent(s) individuals from taking action?
The questions to ask: Is the behaviour taking too long? Is it too costly? Does it require too much physical or mental effort? Is it too difficult to integrate the new behaviour into current practices (routine)?
Next, B.J. Fogg advocates making the new behaviour "something tiny" by focusing on the starting action, i.e. the first conduct that will allow to take action(Starter Step) and to adapt the rest. For example, to build your "Elevator Pitch", you should start by identifying your 3 main responsibilities.
Warning: no action is ever performed without a trigger (the Prompt of B=MAP is fundamental in taking action)! The choice of the trigger is therefore an essential step. It is possible to use three types of triggers :
B.J. Fogg insists on the effectiveness of using a current habit, one of our own behaviors, as a stable and solid "anchor" to which we will hang the new action, to create a durable and automatic trigger. For example: in the morning, when arriving at the office and before opening my e-mails (the condition: a habit that I perform every day), I list my 3 main objectives for the day (new behaviour).
Take home message: Motivation is not the only guarantee of taking action! To encourage a new behaviour, it is necessary to simplify the action as much as possible and to choose its trigger well.
It may be difficult to follow this method alone, so some specialized devices may be available to help you. This is the case with Fifty, an e-doing tool that helps employees to take action as part of a transformation or after training. The solution recommends personalised micro-actions to be carried out in the field, helps to carry them out thanks to behavioural sciences (Nudge) and measures change. Stop talking, start doing!
Fogg, B. J. (2019). Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.