It’s that time of year when I keep hearing the same dreaded question, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” I usually cringe because I haven’t been successful with following through on my resolutions. Looking at statistics, I am not alone. It is estimated that 92% of resolutions are never completed. I’m not saying we should avoid setting New Year’s resolutions, but if you are like me and live in that 92% maybe it’s time to try something new. For 2019 my plan is to pass on going big. Instead, I’m going tiny – as in tiny habits.
What is a tiny habit?
Tiny habits are a behavior change strategy created by B.J. Fogg, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University. His research has shown that the most successful way to create long-term habits is to make small adjustments with positive reinforcement to retrain the brain. These changes need to be simple and systematic in order to eventually make them automatic. You can find more information about tiny habits and B.J. Fogg by viewing his TEDx Talk, Forget Big Change, Start with a Tiny Habit.
How do I put tiny habits into action?
According to Dr. Fogg you need to follow a couple of steps to create tiny habits. The key steps are:
- Define the change – What is it you want to change? What is the new behavior?
- Baby Steps – Keep it simple and start small. This will make it easy to repeat and you won’t feel overwhelmed.
- Create a Trigger – Select an action that you do regularly and add your tiny habit after it.
- Celebrate Victories – Once you have done your new tiny habit cheer yourself on with a positive phrase.
For example, if you want to start getting in shape, you could plan on doing push-ups regularly. You would start simple with 5 push-ups a day. The trigger would be to do push-ups as soon as you get out of bed in the morning. Then once you’ve done the push-ups, you can say a phrase out loud to cheer yourself on: “Way to go. I’m awesome.” Over time you can keep increasing the number of push-ups. By doing this action each morning push-ups will become habitual.
That is just one example of a tiny habit. You can adapt this process to a variety of options. If you want more examples, take a look at the Tiny Habits program. It’s a free online program which provides recommendations on ways to use tiny habits for commonly held lifestyle goals.
Why do tiny habits work?
The basic reason tiny habits work is because we are creatures of habit. If we regularly repeat an action it becomes a pattern. If our actions are small, we are more likely to complete them.
As the new year approaches, I’m planning on incorporating tiny habits into my routine. Maybe this will help me not lose my keys for the millionth time. With any luck, I’ll do more than 20 push-ups every 4 months. Whatever you decide to do, define your New Year’s resolutions, try out a few tiny habits, or pass on making any changes at the start of the year, I hope 2019 is an amazing year and you reach all your goals.
If you have any recommendations on how you meet your goals or keep motivated let us know. We would love to hear how you stay inspired.