Tiny Habits Can Make Big Changes, Because We Have to Start Somewhere

Amy Lawrenson

How many of you have stuck to your New Year’s resolutions? I can’t even remember what mine were. At this time of year, as the clocks spring forward and the evenings gets lighter, I’m reminded of January 1 and the promise of a new year. This is another annual ritual for me. I always set new intentions in the spring, yet come autumn, I’ll have forgotten what I had set out to change about myself. In reality, it doesn’t matter what time of year you set a healthy intention; if the change you want to make is too big or vague, like losing weight, going to the gym more or pledging to take packed lunches to work for the rest of your days, you’re more than likely setting yourself up for a fail (and a big old Chipotle blowout). But I have discovered a way to make my healthy intentions stick.

Keep scrolling to find out how to build lasting healthy habits.

About a year ago I stumbled across a Ted Talk with a man called BJ Fogg. What caught my attention was his idea that willpower and motivation are a losing strategy when it comes to making lasting changes; you can’t rely on them. “Motivation is slippery,” he said. Instead, we need to make easy changes that don’t require us to rely on such flaky things as motivation or willpower.

He came up with the idea of Tiny Habits, small changes that are so stupidly easy to make that you don’t need to rely on any kind of drive or determination. For instance, I quite fancied dry body brushing more; I know how to do it, it’s easy! But I’m not particularly motivated to stick to it.

Fogg identified that for people to make something a habit there needs to be a trigger. You need to latch this new tiny habit onto an existing one. Fogg always does at least two push-ups after going to the toilet, which during the day can mount up. I have taken to placing my dry body brush on my bedside table next to my phone charger, and at night, after plugging my phone in to charge, I dry body brush. In the morning, after taking my mobile off charge, I repeat the brushing.

The format for Tiny Habits is:

Fogg finds that most people tend to latch these new behaviours onto existing morning or evening habits. So while waiting for the kettle to boil in the morning you apply cuticle oil, or when you...

Fogg finds that most people tend to latch these new behaviours onto existing morning or evening habits. So while waiting for the kettle to boil in the morning you apply cuticle oil, or when you come in at night you lay out your gym kit for the next day. Then once you’ve finished, celebrate—tell yourself you’re awesome or do a little dance (really, Fogg recommends it).

Start with one tiny habit and over time you can add more. The key is to start really, really small. So small it requires no willpower. Over time it will get even easier, so be open to building on it—Fogg now does 12 push-ups after a toilet trip. I’m 30 days in, and I’m still dry body brushing.

Watch the TEDx Talks video with BJ Fogg below:

What’s your tiny habit going to be? Let us know in the comment box below.

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