Tiny Habits to Make Lasting Changes
Changing behavior may seem like an overwhelming task, as we tend to think that we just need to find the right motivation or willpower. We judge ourselves harshly for failing to make changes, and we set lofty goals and rely on motivation to achieve them. What if it were much simpler than that?
Motivation is not enough
If you tell yourself that you’re going to start working out every day starting tomorrow, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t happen or it happens only once or twice before eventually falling by the wayside.
We overestimate the power of our motivation to change our behavior. Lasting change is possible, however, if we tap into an important aspect of human behavior.
Designing a good habit
If you want to be successful, design a habit so that it doesn’t require motivation. What does that look like?
Enter the concept of ‘tiny habits’, from the book Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg.
Start with an extremely simple behavior and tether it to another behavior in your life that acts as a prompt for the new behavior. Thus, whenever a particular event happens, it serves as a prompt to perform an intended behavior.
In order to use this tool most effectively, it is important to identify a very specific behavior that serves as a prompt. Then, the intended behavior should be ridiculously simple such that there is no excuse not to perform it every time you encounter the prompt. Finally, when you correctly perform the behavior, give yourself some positive feedback.
Here are a couple examples of how this strategy might be employed:
- After rinsing my toothbrush, I will floss 1 tooth.
- After turning on the shower faucet, I will do 2 pushups.
- After loading the dishwasher after dinner, I will walk to the mailbox and back.
By repeatedly connecting the new behavior to a very specific event, eventually the habit will become automatic.
Then, whenever you feel you can, you can do more of the intended behavior (floss 2 teeth, do 3 pushups, walk around the block, etc.) and feel successful for doing so.