Changing habits begins with a belief in the possibility of change.
The research behind 'Tiny habits' has been carried out by Professor Fogg. His findings are that making lasting change or working towards something new will be successful in you move forwards with tiny habits or changes to your day. You focus on small actions that you can do in less than thirty seconds. Starting tiny means you can begin creating a big change without focussing on it being an extra thing you have to fit into your day. You will quickly wire in new habits, and then they will grow naturally.
When this study was carried out it took participants about 8 attempts to make their habit small enough!! We are so used to setting bit goals and seeing big progress being celebrated that it can be difficult to re wire our thinking in order to create a tiny habit!
Professor Fogg outlines the three steps you take when choosing a tiny habit:
1. Anchor moment - An existing routine (like brushing your teeth). Join your new habit onto something you already do in the day. The Anchor Moment reminds you to do the new Tiny Behaviour.
2. New tiny behaviour - A simple version of the new habit you want, such as reading one page of an article (instead of a whole magazine) or stretch your shoulders (instead of the whole body). You do the Tiny Behaviour immediately after the Anchor Moment.
3. Instant celebration - Something you do to create positive emotions, even just a smile. You celebrate immediately after doing the new Tiny Behaviour. With the Tiny Habits method, you celebrate successes no matter how small they are. This is how we take advantage of our neurochemistry and quickly turn deliberate actions into automatic habits.
Tiny habits examples
After I brush my teeth, I will floss one tooth.
After I pour my morning coffee, I will drink a glass of water.
After I sit down on the train, I will take three deep breaths.
After the lesson, I will stretch out my back.
After the pupils have gone, I will listen to one upbeat song.
After I have washed up my dishes, I will set out my trainers for a walk in the morning.
When you celebrate effectively, you tap into the reward circuitry of your brain. By feeling good at the right moment, you cause your brain to recognise and encode the sequence of behaviours you just performed. In other words, you can hack your brain to create a habit by celebrating and self-reinforcing.
How do tiny habits grow big?
Every day you do the behaviour, you build a bit more muscle strength, flexibility, and skill. This makes the behaviour easier and easier to do, moving the behaviour farther and farther to the right. And if you feel successful, your motivation will also increase.
Here is an image to help you get started.....
Over to you, what is is that you would like to do, or change? Can you think of a tiny step towards that?
If you want to find out more here is a podcast episode where Professor Fogg speaks about the theory in more detail.