Tiny Habits, Big Change
Have you found your motivation has taken a nosedive during lockdown? Maybe you'd like to begin to cultivate some better habits - to exercise more, find time to meditate or drink more water.
I'm going to tell you about a method I use that will help you to create new, more positive and long lasting behaviours.
This technique, known as 'Tiny Habits' was created by Stanford University Behaviour Scientist BJ Fogg, and it has the potential to change your life.
It works on the principle that all behaviour happens because of three essential components - the motivation to do it, the ability to do it and a trigger that causes it. Things that we find difficult to do require a high level of motivation - if you aren't motivated to do something, you simply won't do it.
Habits are created through repetition - so to increase your motivation, you need to initially make the action you want to take very, very tiny and easy to do. The best way of doing this is to identify an existing, automatic behaviour in your life and incorporate the new action immediately after it. This creates your trigger.
So, for instance - you may want to build your fitness. First, identify a behaviour in your life that is already automatic to you - for instance, brushing your teeth, flushing the toilet or boiling the kettle. And say to yourself "After I brush my teeth/flush the toilet/boil the kettle .... I will do five jumping jacks."
Because you are only asking yourself to do five jumping jacks your motivation is much higher, and you will find the action easy to do. Then you just need to repeat this every single time you do the existing, automatic behaviour - until this too becomes automatic. And over time, as you practice and it gets easier, you can very gradually begin to increase the new habit.
The key is to start really small, and make sure it is something you do at least once a day, that will last no more than 30 seconds and that takes very little effort.
Each time you complete your new behaviour give yourself a massive pat on the back - and by this I mean really celebrate it! You might want to do a little victory dance, give a big whoop or say to yourself "I'm awesome!" This is because we cultivate what we celebrate - in other words, you are sending a powerful message to your unconscious mind that this is the kind of behaviour that you want more of in your life.
Put this into practice and notice how easy it is to create new and lasting habits!
This article first appeared in the New Stour & Avon magazine on 18 June 2021