The smallest discernible change is still change. This is what tiny habits are. BJ Fogg has done extensive research in behaviour. How it works and what is needed to change it. I have been playing with his tiny habits model for the past few months now, with successful and some not so successful results. Mostly successful though. The times where I have not succeeded yet, I have set the bar to high or not created the proper trigger. More on this later.
Below is his TED talk which explains all the important things you need to know about the process of creating tiny habits. If you don’t know what TED talks are, that is OK. Your world has just been opened up to a field of knowledge in which your mind can now frolic and be merry. Seriously though Ted talks are awesome. Great thinkers sharing ideas that can have a huge impact on how we live our lives.
For those who don’t have 17min to spare to watch the talk. Here is my summary of the talk. (I still recommend you should watch the video)
There are 2 ways to change long term behaviour
1. Change the environment (this includes social environment)
2. Make the change small enough
For most people changing their environment, especially their social one is hard. For some it is near impossible. So let’s rather focus on making the change as small as possible. In the talk he gives the example of flossing one tooth to build the habit of flossing. This sounds ridiculous but it’s not about flossing, everybody knows how to floss. It is about flossing regularly. With flossing one tooth the buy in to do the action is so low it is really easy to do.
Tiny habits is about training to make the action automatic, it is not about training/learning the action. We usually are able to do the thing we want to make a habit. Once the action becomes automatic, it builds. You tend to do more and more until you are doing the correct amount or the full action. It is a PROCESS. Just like most things.
A Tiny Habit is made up of the following:
1. Motivation (The will to do the habit)
2. Ability (Being able to do the habit)
3. Trigger (a signal to perform the habit, usually an existing habit)
Tiny habits need to repeatable, expandable and you need to celebrate your victories each time. Motivation is fickle and can’t be relied on so you must be able to do the habit when you have low motivation. The most important part is the Trigger, the thing that gets you to do the habit. The existing habit that you use to trigger the tiny habit. It can be brushing your teeth which is the trigger for flossing one tooth. It could be taking a shower which is the trigger for taking a 10 sec cold shower. The Trigger must be something that you do already on a regular basis without fail. The idea is to build on success.
It is the accumulation of tiny habits that grow and expand, which develop into bigger habits. This creates big change.