Remember way back back to New Year’s Eve?
Seems like FOREVER ago, amiright?!
But remember the shiny newness of a new year and a new decade and the plans to overhaul your entire life for the better?
How’s that going?
If you’re like most people, resolutions are fizzled out and long forgotten, but the desire to get healthy still lingers.
We’re halfway into the year and most people have made few, if any, changes because the changes that were planned were massive and a huge undertaking.
But what if they didn’t have to be?
As you know, I’m quite fond of habits – learning how we use them, how we change them, how we grow them, etc. Everything I can get my hands on about habits is fair game.
So when I came across a book called Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, of course I put my trusty library card to use! (yep, unapologetic nerd with a library card here)
And talk about a case of confirmation bias! But in the best of ways, I promise.
BJ and I are on the same team here with these habits and he puts it into words I otherwise hadn’t yet.
“We change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.” And guess what? Giant life overhauls usually feel bad! They’re hard and we feel like a failure when we don’t do it and it’s all so overwhelming.
Unless you choose a different approach and break it up into the tiniest habits possible. Because then each tiny habit completed is a tiny win, and each tiny win creates confidence and momentum to do it again. And then it becomes this giant tidal wave of tiny habits all rolled into one that eventually DO end up overhauling your entire life.
Except it doesn’t feel that way as it’s happening. It feels easy and manageable and do-able, even for the most daunting change you’re looking to make. If you break it up into tiny habits, tiny changes, and you conquer them one at a time, you’ll watch your confidence grow and your progress add up.
It’s like that saying about eating an elephant one bite at a time, except the elephant is a change you’re hoping to make.
Usually I’d defer to gurus like Dave Ramsay and Rachel Hollis who preach about the power of focus and how what you focus on is what you win at.
And while I agree with them wholeheartedly that where we give effort to is where we’ll see an impact, it doesn’t HAVE to be massive focus and all out effort.
By that I mean that as long as we’re deliberate about our plan to change one small thing, and then have that compound over time, we don’t necessarily need to have all hands on deck kind of focus in order to instill change.
Take for example my desire to increase my upper body strength. I decided to implement a tiny habit in the form of a habit stack – every time I use the restroom, I do 3 push ups. It takes less than ten seconds and almost no thought.
Plus, it became a habit on day one! It didn’t take the average 66 days to form this new tiny habit, it took one day.
But that little habit has turned into me doing anywhere from 40 to 50 push ups per day, and my goal is to work up to 100 per day! And all with minimal focus and/or effort.
The same rings true for any change you’re hoping to make – flossing your teeth? Start by flossing one tooth. Want to make breakfast each morning? Start by turning on the burner. Morning workouts? Lay out your workout clothes.
These small changes are what make habit formation manageable. We’ve seen what attempts at complete life overhauls look like (New Year’s resolutions) yet we still try again each year.
But now we’re armed with knowledge of how to make lasting change so that the 40% of our lives spent on autopilot (aka habits) are what WE design them to be, making changes WE want to make.