MAP Out Your Habits

Mike Coval
March 20, 2021

This is something I learned from BJ Fogg's book, "Tiny Habits" and it super simple, yet can be incredibly effective for eliciting behavior change.** Remember, no matter how you want to categorize it, whenever we're trying to create better versions of ourselves, it's all behavior change.

Increasing the frequency of going to the gym = behavior change

Eating breakfast first thing in the AM = behavior change

The list goes on and on.

Let's dig into how to MAP your habits.

M = Motivation. How motivated are you to change this behavior? Things that can effect your motivation include:

-seeking pleasure/avoiding pain

-social acceptance/social rejection


A = Ability. Do you have the ability to change this behavior? Variables that factor in here include:



-physical effort

-mental effort

-how far away from your current routine is this new behavior?

P = Prompt. What are you going to use to facilitate the behavior change? There are 3 different things to highlight here.

1) Spark - type of prompt that elicits immediate motivation. If you look in the mirror and aren't happy with the way you look and feel then you will adopt the behaviors that are required to change that feeling (either acceptance or behaviors that will result in looking and feeling better).

2) Facilitator - type of prompt to use when motivation is high, but ability is low. You might be highly motivated to start eating better, but you don't believe you have enough money to eat healthy. You would then seek out grocery stores where you can find healthy, high-quality food at a price that fits your budget.

3) Signal - type of prompt used for high motivation and high ability. In order to look and feel better you believe you need to find a personal trainer. So you set your Google calendar up for a daily reminder to spend 10 minutes per day researching personal trainers in your area until you find one that fits your needs and preferences.

The big things to look at first are M & A. Specifically with A, you should look at "how far away from your current routine is this new behavior?". If it's too far gone from your regular routine, then no matter how motviated (M) you are, then you will likely fail with implementing the new behavior.

For example, if you don't work out at all right now and you're motivated to start working out every day and commit to that, the likelihood of you sustaining that is slim-to-none. You won't even start doing it and then realize it's too much and do the next logical thing which would be to scale back the number of days. You're much more likely to go back to doing nothing because you're going to feel like a failure and that you're not capable.

Start small!

And make sure your confidence is high on your ability to follow through.

If you're not a 9 or higher on your confidence with your motivation and your ability, then seek a more simple, not as threatening behavior to change.

Using the above example of going from no days of working out to 7 per week, a more logical thing to do would be to set the goal of going 2x per week.

"I'm going to work with a personal trainer 2x per week. I will schedule my sessions for Tuesday's and Friday's at 6 AM. I will pack my gym bag and set it on the floor next to my bed on Monday and Thursday evening so I'm ready to go the next morning"


Go with simple. Be confident (9 or higher). Use prompts.

**I do not want any of BJ's work to be misinterpreted so it's important for me to state that the interpretation and implementation of the examples in this email are my own. The MAP concept is 100% BJ's.

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Mike Coval

Coval Fitness is a Personal Training Studio and Gym in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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