When we embark on an adventure of change, the first leg of the journey is often paved with the best of intentions. For a day or two, we coast on the vision of our future selves – lithe, lean, and illogically happy. When the alarm rouses us at 4:30 in the morning, we gleefully contort our stiff bodies into yoga positions they had never assumed before. We eat six hard boiled eggs with our coffee and turn off all notifications on our phone. A week later, or sooner, cranky and craving a gallon of ice cream, we leave behind the corpses of our well-intentioned resolutions beside the mute treadmills, the pristine sneakers and the vegetables wilting in the crisper.
Change, we think, is not for the faint-hearted and the weak-willed.
Stanford behavior scientist BJ Fogg disagrees. In his book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, Fogg writes, “We are not the problem. Our approach to change is. It’s a design flaw – not a personal flaw.” After twenty years of research and countless hours of coaching thousands of people, Fogg has distilled his findings into a method he calls The Tiny Habits Method:
“Take a behavior you want, make it tiny, find where it fits naturally in your life, and nurture its growth. If you want to create long-term change, it’s best to start small.”
And by small, he means really small. In the book, he cites an example from his own life:
After a visit to the dentist where he was once again chided for not flossing, he decided to floss one tooth after brushing his teeth in the morning. He gave himself extra credit if he flossed more than one tooth, but one tooth was all he had to floss each day. In two weeks, he was flossing all of his teeth twice a day, and he’s been doing so ever since.
“Keeping changes small and expectations low is how you design around fair-weather friends like motivation and willpower. When something is tiny, it’s easy to do – which means you don’t need to rely on the unreliable nature of motivation.”
If BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits Method intrigues you, feel free to click on the following resources. They just may help you create healthy habits for life:
- Borrow a physical copy of Tiny Habits from the library
- Borrow a digital copy of Tiny Habits from Libby
- Visit BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits website
- Watch BJ Fogg’s TED Talk
As for me, I will start off my week with this tiny habit: After dinner, I will vacuum a portion of the house for one whole minute. If the spirit moves me past that golden minute, life will be biscuits and gravy.
To tiny habits and beyond!