Let’s celebrate! Tiny Habits® turns 10 years old this month!
Back in December 2011, BJ Fogg, the behavior scientist with deep experience in innovation and teaching, introduced his groundbreaking program for making positive life changes.
This free online five-day program – and now a best-selling book – taps into the power of environment and baby steps to help you make changes relatively easily.
For many of us, these changes are life transforming. I was one of the early converts and evangelizers. After spotting one of BJ’s tweets, I signed up for Tiny Habits® the second week it was available. By the third day, I realized the power of its simplicity. I was able to start building a habit that had been evading me for decades – flossing my teeth daily.
And because the online program teaches the skill of building habits, I was able to take the habit recipe BJ created to build numerous other habits for myself. Plus, I became so enthused about habits that I studied them in my applied neuroscience program and introduced them in my executive coaching and consulting.
By the way, BJ describes a “tiny habit” as a behavior that:
- You do at least once a day.
- It takes you less than 30 seconds to do.
- It requires little effort.
According to BJ, “simplicity changes behavior.” With BJ’s method, you set up your environment to prompt you to take your new, small action. By making the behavior tiny and simple to do, you’re able to do something new without having to rely on motivation or apply willpower.
Even better, your tiny success begets more success. When you start behaving differently – especially when you make the effort to celebrate – you feel strong positive emotions. This reinforces your new behavior and encourages you to keep going. The stronger your positive emotions, the faster the new “tiny habit” becomes automatic.
Your tiny successes can then grow into big positive changes. For instance, after focusing on flossing one tooth, I soon was able to floss all my teeth and get better check-ups from the dentist.
Over the past 10 years, more than 120,000 individuals around the world have tried Tiny Habits®. From my perspective, these five characteristics make BJ’s innovative program so popular, distinctive, and transformative.
1. Positivity. You have a lot of freedom once you decide you want to try Tiny Habits®. You do need to decide what behaviors/habits you want to do, not should do. This makes the experience more positive.
2. Simplicity. You intentionally create small habits that are simple and easy to do by following a recipe. And as much as possible, the habits are also fun, not a chore. And because they’re so small and related to routines you already have, you hardly have to exert any brainpower. Your situation and environment prompt your action, not your thoughts.
3. Frequency. You’re doing the habit at least daily, or sometimes even more often, based on your recipe. Performing the habit repeatedly helps it become automatic, a key characteristic of habits.
4. Rewarding. The experience is rewarding on two levels. You’ve set yourself up for success because you’ve chosen something you want to do and you’ve made it easy for yourself. Plus, the program teaches you to celebrate your success both when you remember to do the habit and then you do it. The positive emotions you feel both times encourage you to continue the behavior.
5. Learning. You learn the skill of building habits. You work on three habits over five days, which helps you focus on the bigger and longer game of how this program, a la tool, works. Once you understand the skill and know how the habit “recipe” works, you can start to create new habits of various levels of complexity. (I refer to them as scripted and improv, as explained in this blog post, “Plastics.” Brain benefits, present to future. Scripted habits are Tiny Habits®.)
For those of us who have embraced Tiny Habits®, we’ve been able to use it to transform our life. Adopting small habits has helped us increase our self-awareness and act more intentionally. As a result, we’ve improved our ability to manage our habits as well as control our overall behavior.
Thank you Tiny Habits®! And thank you BJ Fogg!