creating tiny habits

working-22

I have been inconsistent with my blogging.   This is a quick one to get back in the habit.

Appropriately this one is about creating tiny habits.

Back in April, I did this free online course called 3 Tiny Habits offered by Stanford professor BJ Fogg. He’s behaviour scientist who I actually met once at a conference in NYC – Behaviour Con.

This whole course is devoted to creating skills needed to create new habits. I’m interested in this because let’s face it  – everything you do in this life is made up of habits. It’s not necessarily self-help either. It’s also about designing solutions for others.

I would argue success for most businesses depends on creating habits in customers . It’s a topic that can change the world. A lot of innovative companies like Google are successful because it creates new habits for million of people.

Anyways, in this post I want to describe his course and what I got out of it. He asks you to pick 3 new healthy habits that you want in your life.  The 3 tiny habits I chose to focus on were:

1. After I brush I will floss one tooth.
2. When I get to work I will write one line in my note book.
3. After I put my head on the pillow . I will think of one good thing from the day.
Now if you notice, these 3 new habits are pretty simple.  And they are created after I do an existing habit.  He calls these ‘anchor’ habits.
For instance I wake up in the morning and automatically brush my teeth. I hope you do as well.  He mentions for you to create a new ‘tiny’ habit it must be these 3 things:
1. you do it at least once a day
2. takes you less than 30 seconds and
3. requires little effort.
He’s found that motivation can’t be relied on for creating new habit. It’s not sustainable, because it requires work.  Yet everyone thinks they need more “motivation”.
Here’s a quick real life example – do you remember how busy your local gym was in January? People had new years resolutions to get more fit, sexy, etc and they have all this motivation. Then what happens at the gym? 2 weeks later it’s back to it’s normal level of people. 
What the hell does this MEAN?
Motivation is great for getting you started, but it’s horrible to get you finished. Hence why you need GOOD habits.  (Btw: I don’t think motivation is bad thing. You should have something that gets you excited in the morning).
This is the reasoning behind his simple methodology.  It should be as effortless as possible.
He also talks about feeling victorious after you do each habit.  So I actually mentally rehearsed all these habits once and said “victory! or “nailed it!”  to myself before even doing it. He explains what you say to yourself is key for rapid habit formation. I definitely found that to be true. Humans seek pleasure and avoid pain.
This online course is a 5 day session structured that  I had to email him  YYY or YNY or NNN ( yes – y and no – n) to completing these three tiny habits at the end of the day.
Below is a screen shot of an email I’d get each day.
tiny habits email
Take aways / What surprised me?
That I needed to be make my habits super simple for them stick. Also I needed to change the anchor.
For instance my last habit – thinking of one good thing after put on my head on pillow –  was something I should have changed to  – write one thing down in my notebook I feel grateful for. That felt more concrete than just thinking about it. Also, once I’m in bed I fall asleep pretty quick. Not a time for thinking.
For my 2nd habit –  ‘when I get to work I will write one line in my note book‘ – My anchor was a bit vague. It needed to be more specific. When I sit down at the desk, take out my lap top and my notebook from my bag THEN I will write one line down in my notebook.  It needs to be more precise to get done. Writing one line is super easy too.
If I said write for 5 mins in my notebook –  that time interval would make it 10x harder to implement.
One thing actually he stresses is that revision is part of the process.  He gives a lot of helpful hints to make this all easier in his emails too. I will try it out again and maybe you should too.
If you want to get a deeper understanding of this topic check out his website – tinyhabits.com
 Hope this got you EXCITED to create new habits!!
Till next time,
Nishant (Trying to create new habits) Mehrotra

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