Home » Progressive Professional – More Tips for Success – September 2013

Progressive Professional – More Tips for Success – September 2013

Changing behaviors is one of our most difficult challenges. Most of our behaviors are habits – things we have done the same way or not done for a long time. I recently had a discussion with a trusted colleague who was excited about making changes in his life. When I asked how he was doing it, he responded “Tiny Habits”. So, after hearing about his success, I did some research and experimentation.

Here’s what I learned and have proven in my own life:

If you want to change behaviors in your life, Tiny Habits are the way to achieve great success with virtually no “pain”. This method of achieving lasting change was developed by Dr. B. J. Fogg, an Experimental Psychologist who teaches at Stanford University and works in industry. At Stanford, he runs the Persuasive Technology Lab.

The Tiny Habits method summarizes the science of behavior change to three factors. These are the same factors that create habits.

  • The Trigger – An event that causes you to take a specific action.
  • Action – Something done or performed, a deed.
  • Reward/Celebration – Something that generates a feeling of accomplishment.

Fogg Behavior Model states that there are three components necessary to accomplish an act, the trigger, the ability and the motivation.  The motivation is the least important which may seem counterintuitive from most change processes.  This change method ties the trigger to the action and as long as folks have the ability to complete the action, it is normally very successful.  Success comes from simplicity – taking a small step.

Tiny Habits are only 30 seconds long. Most folks can do anything for 30 seconds. To be successful with change, you need to identify the trigger and associated desired action. For example, if you want to create a habit of flossing your teeth and regularly brush your teeth, then you might create a Tiny Habit by committing to floss one tooth every time you brush. While that may sound silly, it is easier to build on that small, new habit by adding a tooth or two to the pattern after you have achieved the “one tooth” objective.

The Tiny Habits method uses an existing habit or common event as the trigger for a new, tiny habit.  This makes the new habit part of a sequence. Think engineering – you are designing a behavior using a process which builds on an existing habit. What you are creating is “automaticity” – like your normal response to someone extending their hand to shake hands, answering your phone when it rings, or starting to move your car when a traffic light turns green. The “automaticity” approach creates new habits in a few days rather than the 21 days that we’ve always heard before.

If you want to stop a behavior, you simply need to remove one of the three factors, the trigger, the ability or the motivation.  For example, if I want to stop eating ice cream every night as I watch the news, I can refuse to turn on the TV (remove the trigger), or I can remove all ice cream from the house (remove the ability), or I can post a picture of myself when I was heavier on the frig (a definite motivator to not eat ice cream).  If I want to do less of something, I can use the same approach and limiting my ice cream to an ice cream bar versus a bowl of ice cream.

You may ask, what happens if this fails.  That means the trigger isn’t working. The best approach is to try another trigger. You can also try to practice the sequence several times in quick succession. Think of this as a puzzle to solve. You are re-designing your world/environment to support the desired habits. Don’t blame lack of motivation – remember it is the least influential factor in this method of change.

The bottom line is this.  There are really only three ways to achieve change:

1. Have an epiphany – which rarely happens.

2. Change your environment – which is a little easier but not often done.

3. Take baby steps – small consistent actions towards your desired state.

For those of you that know me well, you have probably heard me use the term “baby steps” quite often. Learning about Tiny Habits has reinforced to me that I was on the right path all along. What do you want to change in your life? Dr. Fogg suggests starting with three goals and doing them for a week. If you can engage someone else to share in your success, you will achieve even more. What are you waiting for? What do you want to change? As Nike says “Just Do It!” To learn more about Tiny Habits, go to www.tinyhabits.com or www.bjfogg.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *