The New Year is traditionally focused on breaking habits - quitting smoking, spending less, eating at home more and so on. But what if you want to build a better habit? Research says it's easier to replace something with a new habit versus just stopping something cold turkey. And in a recent podcast, tech addiction specialist Tristan Harris shared a proven formula to build your next healthy habit.

The TED Speaker learned the method from Stanford professor B. J. Fogg. The formula is B = M x A x T, or Behavior equals motivation times ability times trigger.

Motivation

As Harris explains on the Tim Ferriss podcast, you first need the motivation to change your behavior.

In coaching, there is a saying: "You can't want it more than they do." I've turned away potential clients because I was more excited about their transformation than they were. Motivation is an inside job.

Ability

You can be motivated to change, but it won't matter if you don't have the ability to switch behaviors. For instance, you may want to eat healthier, but if the nearest fresh food market is 100 miles away, then you aren't going to adapt easily.

This is one reason why environment affects our habits so much: A system that limits your ability to be healthier makes it more difficult, if not impossible to change your behavior. It informs today's discussions on diversity and many other issues.

Trigger

Lastly, you can be motivated to adapt and have the ability to change, but you need a trigger to start your process. It's not a coincidence that amazing achievement is often proceeded by a birth or a death or a scare. It is human nature. My own evolution into an entrepreneur occurred when my first son was born.

We need a spark to prompt your metamorphosis, however minor.

How to begin

Think about a new habit you need in your life: Why are you motivated to do it? Are you able to do it? And why do you want to do it now? This may be enough to start an effective change - beginning as a small one and growing into a lifelong benefit.