I’m not into “New Year’s Resolutions” but I do love the idea of setting – and reaching for – goals…anytime of the year. And, any day of the year – not just Monday. But, they are tiny habits.
Just the other day, I read in the Wall Street Journal, an article by BJ Fogg. He’s the founder and director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University. And, the author of “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything.”
It’s our approach to self-improvement that needs to change~BJ Fogg, Author of Tiny Habits
If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that I’m always encouraging small changes (rather than major overhauls).
I didn’t always. But my mindset changed while I was conducting my doctoral dissertation about weight loss.
Nearly every woman that I interviewed (who had lost weight – and kept it off), did so by making small tiny changes…that overtime, added up to a big deal. They didn’t make MAJOR changes. I wrote about their stories in an old book of mine, “Dr. Jo’s No Big Deal Diet”. The title came from several of the women saying,
Oh, it’s no big deal, all I did was…~Dr. Jo
What No Big Deal changes can YOU make?
In BJ Fogg’s article, he notes that though people make a lot of resolutions every January, there’s a painful gap between what people want and what they actually do. So true!
Through his research with more than 40,000 people, he’s discovered a formula for any successful shift in behavior. One that recommends only tiny adjustments. Here’s his three-step process.
Step 1: Pick a behavior you WANT to do.
Yes, something that you really want to do. That is, not one that someone else wants you do – or one that you feel pressured, obligated to do.
Step 2: Pick a behavior that you are ABLE to do.
In other words, don’t say you’re going to “try” to fit in seven or eight hours of sleep when you barely sleep four hours now. That’s not very reasonable, is it?
This is where he suggests making the change simple and small. Perhaps setting an alarm to get to bed no later than 11:30 so you can get five hours of sleep? Or stop eating at 10PM, instead of midnight?
Step 3: Identify a way to trigger the behavior.
In other words, you need to associate the new behavior with something else. Will you do this new habit first thing in the morning? After brushing your teeth? Immediately following lunch? Right before you shower? Get it?
Just connect it to another activity, another habit that you have already firmly established.
Last year I set a goal to hold a one-minute plank every day. No, not a 15 minute abs workout. Just one minute! And, I’ve kept it up.
I do my daily plank right before my nightly stretching routine…which BTW, consists of only three different stretches that I’ve done now for more than 20 years.
Tiny habits really ARE easier to maintain. You can always grow from there.
I’d like to now offer my own fourth step that I believe is absolutely critical for long term success of any changes we make. And, besides four is my favorite number 🙂
Dr. Jo’s Step 4: Note the positive and forgive yourself if you fall short.
While my abs could use a whole lot more work, a one-minute plank was MY tiny habit. And, while I don’t do it every single day, I’ve managed to fit it into my day about four times a week.
So, yes, I “could” do more. And, perhaps I “should” do more.
But, I work hard to prevent my brain from going down that “could have, should have” scolding path. Because where does self-scolding get you?
Not more motivated…that’s for sure. It only makes you feel defeated – and you give it all up. Isn’t some progress better than none?
I look at the positive instead. Because some weeks I do them every day. In fact, somedays I DO more than one set. I’ve kept this up for about six months now. And, my abs are stronger than they were before. Yes, that’s all that’s important – moving in the right direction.
What if you started that tiny habit 20 years ago? How would things be different today?~ Dr. Jo
I know…life is crazy. It’s hard to change things in a big way.
What tiny “no big deal” habit can you start – and succeed at? Don’t wait for the new year. And, Monday isn’t a magical day to start.
Start right now. Tiny habits are easier to maintain when the times get tough.