A Tiny Habit Can Become a Lasting Behavior

A Tiny Habit Can Become a Lasting Behavior

“After I pee, then I do 2 push ups.”

Gross? Maybe. Effective? Yes. At least according to Dr. BJ Fogg in this TED Talk, Forget Big Change, Start With A Tiny Habit. 

Dr. Fogg has a doctorate in persuasive psychology and goes all around the country helping people make lasting behavioral changes in their lives. He’s used this system to make a few of his own, including getting in up to 70 pushups a day or losing almost 20 pounds. And the secret to creating these lasting behavioral changes is taking small steps and tying them to actions which you do on a daily basis.

The formula looks like this: After I (typical behavior) I will do (new behavior.) Hence…

“After I pee, I do 2 push ups.”

And after awhile it went to 6 pushups. Then 8. Now it’s 12. And at the end of the day he’s done 70 or so push ups.

So let’s say that you’re trying to do yoga in the morning before work, and everyday you make a pot of coffee before you leave.

“After I start my coffee maker, I will get out my yoga mat and practice yoga while the coffee brews.”

Let’s say you want to do more sit ups, and every night you watch the news.

“After the news goes to a commercial, I will do 20 sit ups.”

The key is picking a regular behavior to anchor your new one to. It can’t be an activity that you do sometimes, it has to be a constant in your life in order for it to work. Once you do them in tandem enough, it becomes a learned behavior and part of life—like brushing your teeth or hanging your keys on the hook by the door.

But anchoring a new behavior to a consistent one is only half the battle. The other piece is the correlation between motivation and ability.

If your new behavior is difficult to master, like running a marathon, that requires a high level of motivation to accomplish.

If your new behavior isn’t something that takes a lot of energy or effort then a lower level of motivation is totally okay, as long as there is some motivation behind your actions you can see results.

However, it’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, whether it’s a big change or something a little easier. So, start out small and work your way up to avoid getting burned out, or hurt.

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