Tiny Habits Can Lead to Big Changes

Why do we always think because we don’t have time for an hour workout, there’s no point. Man, I hope I am not alone here. Well, I used to think that working out meant a specific amount of time focusing on just that. If I didn’t have X amount of time, I shouldn’t even bother.

Thankfully, I have changed my ways. Exercise doesn’t have to fit in to that pre-conceived framework. It really is the small stuff that counts, and taking those small steps toward a better and healthier life.

It is all about Tiny Habits

So how can and do we change our thinking around exercise? It helps me to have tiny habits. Matt and I have listened to a man named Dr. BJ Fogg on this topic. He is a professor at Stanford University, in the Persuasive Tech Lab (interesting stuff going on in there). Dr. Fogg talks about how we can change our habits and form new ones. Conventional advice has been that if we stick with something for 21 days, its a habit.

Dr. Fogg disagrees, he suggests tiny habits that take less than 30 seconds have a much higher success rate. At first. I thought this was a crazy! How could this change into a full blown habit? Dr. Fogg’s example was flossing. Let’s say you would like to start the habit of flossing. Instead of cleaning all the teeth, he suggests flossing one tooth. That’s right, just one.

Tiny Habits - Flossing

I must say this is much less daunting than to all of a sudden decide to do all of them! This habit will take less than 30 seconds and will last longer and actually become a habit.

How about we try it? Pick three tiny habits you would like to pursue. Start small. It’s not enough to think, “I’d like to exercise more”. Well, sure, we all would. Instead think,

I’m going to do three push ups as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning.

That will certainly take less than 30 seconds, and you’re attaching your tiny habit to something that is GOING to happen. You are GOING to get out of bed (I hope you will) which is an easy transition to the tiny habit. Getting out of bed is the anchor for your tiny habit. Before you know it, you can work your way up to 5, 10, 15 push ups before you even have your morning cuppa’ joe. Think of the possibilities!

An important part of the process is your celebration! That’s right, celebrate your three pushups! Stand up, pump your fist, pat your back, say “way to go!” or do the ol’ Steve Holt!

Ok, lets try another one. I’ll let you in on  a little secret, I can barley touch my toes. I know, right! It’s horrible. So one of my tiny habits is after I pour my coffee in the morning (the anchor), I forward fold. I stay there for only about 10-20 seconds, but it is my tiny habit I’m working on. Your anchor should precede the tiny habit, not follow it! Try to pick anchors that normally fall in the same time fram each day. This is why meals don’t work well as anchors for me, the times are too random.

Examples of Anchors

  • Getting out of bed
  • Pouring coffee or tea
  • Letting the pets out
  • Feeding the pets
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Getting dressed

I urge you to re-think what it means to be active, and strive for three tiny habits, no matter what they might be! Don’t judge your choices, simply begin! Your tiny habits can be stretching, flossing, meditating, or cleaning. It helps to start small and build from there. Remember every journey starts with a single step. I hope this helps motivate you to conquer a few tiny habits!

Join the Tiny Habits movement here.