Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Ever heard of the Tiny Habits method? It may be tiny, but it’s brilliant.
But first, what’s the big deal with habits? Everyone suddenly seems obsessed with habits. Well, it’s actually not so sudden at all. In The Nicomacean Ethics, Aristotle famously says, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” (Actually, Aristotle never says these words…but it captures his philosophy well, so we'll go with it.)
What does Aristotle mean? Well, we become our habits. Our habits reflect our values. Our habits reflect the kind of person we are. Our habits help us achieve our goals. To achieve excellence, we must develop habits that put us on the path to excellence. And most importantly, our habits will carry us when we’re feeling tired or unmotivated.
Dr. BJ Fogg, a social scientist, created a few tips and tricks for habit development that he calls the Tiny Habits method. According to Dr. Fogg, “People change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.” The philosophy of the Tiny Habits method resides in its name: make tiny changes to our everyday routines. The catch is to start small…and build from there.
Here are the tips and tricks from the Tiny Habits method. If you’re not already following BJ Fogg on social media, be sure to do so!
The 5 Tips:
Simplicity matters more than motivation. If we rely solely on motivation for a habit to develop, it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride because motivation wavers. While this may seem ok, for Dr. Fogg, he wanted to rely on something more reliable. Simplicity was the answer. In other words, if a behavior is really easy and simple, you won’t need a lot of motivation to do it. Take diet and nutrition. It’s going to be difficult to start eating 10 serving of fruits and vegetables if you're currently eating only 1-2 each day. Instead of going big, go small: consume 1 more serving each day. This is simple, easy, and very achievable.
Emotions create habits. According to Dr. Fogg, the speed of habit formation is directly related to the intensity of emotions you feel towards the habit. In other words, if your doctor tells you to make exercise a habit but you really have no desire to do so, it’s likely not to become a habit. On the other hand, if you witness a close family member suffer a heart attack from cardiovascular disease, you may develop a strong emotional desire to exercise: you realize the habit may indeed save your life. At the same time, the emotional connection doesn’t always have to be connected to a negative outcome — by celebrating the completion of a daily habit, we are attaching emotions to it. That leads to...
Celebrate it! The behavior hack “make it simple and celebrate it” soon became Dr. Fogg’s mantra. He started saying “Victory” immediately after each success, and in doing so, he wanted to keep going. He then tackled several behaviors simply to hear praise in the words “Victory!” By making the new behavior really small and celebrating immediately after doing the behavior, you are certain to make that habit stick.
Habit-stacking. I’m super forgetful sometimes, so for me, this technique is brilliant. Habit-stacking means putting the new behavior after or with an existing routine. A few years ago, I wanted to do a wall sit every day. I had good intentions, but I kept forgetting! Then one evening, in the middle of brushing my teeth before bed, I remembered my wall sit. I noticed some free space on the wall beside me, so I put my back to the wall and squatted down into my wall sit…and voila! My electric toothbrush has a 2-minute timer on it, so I didn’t have to think about time at all. I just sat until the timer went off. That’s called habit-stacking and you can do it with so many things. Just think about your existing daily routine and where you can “stack” a new behavior. It works every time!
Success makes tiny habits grow. The goal of tiny habits is to succeed because when you succeed, the habits grow. Take the example of the fruits and vegetables from above. It’s true, simply adding 1 more apple to one’s diet may not make a huge difference with regards to health. But the idea is that once the 1 serving habit is established, that 1 serving will become 2 servings. And over time, those 2 servings will be come 3, then 4, then 7, then 10. In the Tiny Habits method, what you’re doing is building automaticity. It’s the automaticity, not the motivation, that lies at the heart of habit development.
Interested in more? Go to
www.tinyhabits.com to learn more! Or better yet, purchase the book The Tiny Habits Method!