Tiny Ways to New Habits


Tiny Ways to New Habits

When you are looking to start a new habit or routine, it can feel like a big and often overwhelming change.  The fact is the more complex the behavior, the higher the level of motivation it takes to accomplish.  We have all been there when facing a tough task, such as organizing the garage; if you do not have the motivation level needed, you simply will not do it. 

A difficult behavior takes a lot of motivation and drive.  It is natural for your motivation levels to go up and down, and you cannot always rely on your motivation level to be on the same page with what you want to get done, especially forming a new habit.  In turn, if the above information is true, so it the opposite.  If the behavior or task is tiny, then it takes less motivation and drive, if any at all, to accomplish it, right?

Here are three tiny ways to begin developing new and healthy habits.

Start with a Tiny Step
When the step or task is easy, you basically, do it and then it is done.  You do not really have to think about it or make a big deal about the accomplishment, for example, picking up a piece of trash on the floor.  BJ Fogg,  a  psychologist and a founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, has a strategy called the Tiny Habits Method.  The concept is that you start with a tiny behavior, something simple, such as putting on your workout clothes and start with doing just that tiny step.  Find a good time in your regular routine to incorporate this tiny step, and then build on it from there.  A few more examples of tiny steps are to open your notebook, get out a vegetable and put it on the counter, take a deep breath, stretch, or put your cell phone down.  

Change ONE word
Instead of "I have to," change it to "I want to."  Susan David, a psychologist and author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Live,  says, "When we're compelled by a wagging finger instead of a willing heart, we end up in an internal tug-of-war between good intentions and less-than-stellar execution."  The idea behind the simple word change is about genuine interest and aligning with your values versus imposed upon feelings of obligation.  Changing your motivation can make the difference in sticking with a healthy habit.  Making a choice to want to reach a specific result, being in service to your values draws you toward the behaviors that help you reach your goals.  A have to motivation ramps up temptation with feelings of constriction or being deprived.  It takes a series of small choices, adding up over time for significant and long-lasting healthy change.

We tend to focus on our shortcomings, the one negative review, and rarely recognize our successes.  Instead, we just move on to the next thing, right?  A skill that we all can develop that helps us stick with positive habits is to feel good in the moment and on-demand.  Give ourselves some time to go ahead and create a positive feeling inside ourselves.  You can do it right now!  The best way to develop this skill is to celebrate!  Mel Robbins has a strategy called the High Five Challenge, where you simply give yourself a high-five in the mirror each morning for five days in a row.  You can add in an encouraging word or two, like "You got this" or "Victory."  That moment of celebration is felt in your brain and in your body.  It can be energizing, and you will want to celebrate again and again toward your new habits.

Try one or all three of these tiny strategies that will help you stay with a new healthy habit.  It is simple and yet, not so simple, right.  It takes one small choice to pause and do something different each time.  Those choices build over time and, moment to moment, become a trend that then leads to a new habit.  [Insert high-five here!]