Recently, I learned about something called “Tiny Habits”. I don’t remember exactly how I was directed there, but I watched this video and everything flowed from that.
If you watch the video and follow the links, you’ll learn that what Dr. Fogg offers is, effectively, a method of programming oneself to perform desired behaviors in an automatic and consistent way. His method consists of identifying a “tiny habit”, a small action you can execute reliably and easily in under 30 seconds in response to a trigger or “anchor” you select. He offers a week-long (online) class in which he coaches students through their efforts to identify, execute, and establish three new habits in one week.
He recommends formulating your habits in the following terms:
- After [anchor], I will [tiny habit].
The anchor serves as a trigger to stimulate, or prompt the tiny habit. Once the easy, tiny habit is automatic, it can be expanded into a much more complex behavior if desired. By taking the process in baby steps, it never feels overwhelming or demanding. For me, it really turned out to be fun. Here are the habits I started out with for the past week (as part of Dr. Fogg’s class):
- After I get out of bed in the morning, I will go in the living room and adjust the temperature.
- After I open my computer, I will look at the list of messages in my e-mail inbox.
- After I walk through the kitchen on my way out of the house, I will touch the door jamb and say, “I’ll be back.”
Dr. Fogg emphasizes that tweaking and revising our habits in an integral part of the process. After my wife beat me to the thermostat a couple of days, I revised habit 1 to be “After I get out of bed in the morning, I will go in the living room and touch the thermostat/adjust the temperature.” That way, I could execute the behavior even if the temperature was already adjusted.
Habit number 2 just gets me to look at my e-mail. Once I look, I’m usually motivated to read some and process some of the stream, but even if I don’t, even if I just look and see, “Oh, wow, 50 messages,” I count it as a win and celebrate. That’s the other piece of the method. Every time you execute one of your habits, you celebrate. A celebration can be a word spoken aloud (“Awesome!” “Righteous!” “Woohoo!”) or internally (“I did it!” “I rock!” “Yay, me :)”), a physical gesture (fist pump, thumbs up, quick little dance, etc.), a quiet smile, or anything else that lets you know that you’re happy with what you just did. It’s a little internal reward.
For habit 3, I found that I needed a more specific anchor, so it got revised to, “After I open the door on my way out of the house, I will touch the door jamb and say, ‘I’ll be back.'”
I was able to complete all three habits every day for the week. It was exciting to see the behaviors become more automatic over the course of the week.
I plan to continue formulating and working on three habits each week and I plan to write more about this project here. In my next post, I’ll talk about the habits I plan to work on in the coming week.