Why and how you’ll love the book Tiny Habits

by | Jan 6, 2020 | Blog | 2 comments

Yes!!! Dr. BJ Fogg’s long-awaited book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything is out!

Since I’m one of BJ’s biggest fans, I’ve been recommending the book on LinkedIn, Facebook, the comments page of the Wall Street Journal website related to his weekend WSJ essay, On the Journey to New Habits, Take Tiny Steps, and anywhere else I might find individuals interested in building habits, not making New Year’s resolutions.

The feedback is incredibly positive. However, I do get a few questions, which I’m sharing and answering here.

Q. Why do we need yet another habit book?

A. We spend about 43% of our waking hours taking actions that we don’t think about, a la habits, according to Dr. Wendy Wood, one of the world’s foremost habit experts and also the author of a new book about habits, as described later.

Habits are a vital part of our lives, whether we know about them or not. For example, how much thought do you give to dressing, drinking and driving, and that’s only the words that start with “dr”?

Tiny Habits is a how-to manual in which BJ concisely explains his recipe for learning the skill of building habits, jumpstarting behavior change, and sustaining good habits, which can improve the quality of our life. The book also complements his free five-day online program Tiny Habits™.

Q. How does Tiny Habits differ from other popular habit books?

A. Tiny Habits is definitely different from other habit books. It’s a practical handbook grounded in science by the inventor of the online Tiny Habits™ program.

Since BJ launched his online program in December 2011, more than 60,000 individuals around the world have taken it and learned the skill of building habits. And many of us, including me, have found the experience life changing. (Check out my Forbes article from last year at this time, Don’t make resolutions; build habits instead.)

By contrast, Dr. Wendy Woods new book, Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick, focuses on explaining the science of habits based on all of her years of research. Dr. Woods is now Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Southern California and is viewed as one of the experts on the topic. I read many of her research papers while working on my executive masters in NeuroLeadership. This book is a fun read, especially compared to academic papers.

Award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg started the habit publishing trend with his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business about eight years ago. He’s a gripping storyteller as he describes how habits are behind much of our actions.

James Clear, is also a writer, although not a reporter as is Duhigg, and definitely not a scientist. He is the author and marketer of the 2018 best-seller Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, which I don’t to recommend to clients, friends and family. I know enough about the science of habits to know that he is not a subject matter expert.

Having trained as an investigative journalist and having worked as a research assistant for a social psychologist during my undergrad years, I always want to go to the source for information. Why bother with second-hand accounts, especially when the sources aren’t fully credited? And with the social scientists BJ Fogg and Wendy Woods, you get good writing about sound science.

Q. Why should I read the book Tiny Habits if I’ve taken BJ’s free online program?

A. You don’t have to. However, if you’re interested in learning more about building the skill of learning and using habits, the book serves as an awesome practical resource guide.

The appendices are packed with useful tools, such as 18 pages of habit recipes for a range of outcomes, a flow chart to help you make a behavior easier to do, and actionable tutorials on behavior design.

With the latter, you’ll see how Tiny Habits™ fits in with how BJ does behavior design, which is his main focus. (He’s considered the father of this field.) And you’ll get a good grounding in its principles.

As a graduate of BJ’s behavior design bootcamp, I’ve applied my learnings in so many ways, ranging from crafting effective calls to action for various situations to helping Marcel, the therapy dog, confidently ride elevators at the hospital. (He now loves riding elevators, which has created different problems. Check out How to honor your priorities: 3 tips from a working dog.)

Q. Why are you so passionate about Tiny Habits™?

 A. The brain-friendly online Tiny Habits™ program was life transforming for me on three fronts. In three days, I was able to nail a habit I had been working on for 10 years – floss my teeth. And I’ve flossed my teeth at least once a day ever since December 19, 2011. (For more about my experience, check out my 2011 blog post Success! Adopting 3 tiny habits.)

At the same time, I learned the skill of how to build habits, which I’ve used numerous times since for myself, my coaching clients, and family and friends.

And then as a bonus, I became so interested in habits that I explored the topic and wrote my research paper on “Mastering Habits: Taking advantage of the brain’s plasticity” for my NeuroLeadership Executives Master. For more about this topic and the differences in “scripted habits” such as Tiny Habits™ and “improv” habits, see my 2015 blog post “Plastics.” Brain benefits, present to future.

Q. What if I read the book Tiny Habits and don’t like it?

A. You don’t have to finish it. You can give it away to someone who’s interested and could benefit.

Meanwhile, here’s to a new decade of many tiny steps and habits for big impact!


  1. Jim Smith

    Hi, Liz. Tho’ I’ve not pursued a mastery level certificate in NeuroLeadership (go, you!) I have also been following BJ for many years and sending clients to his site for the five day coaching. For me, the transformative piece was around sleep habits, but I’ve returned several times to retake the course to support other new habits.
    Thanks for the Q&A, especially your comparisons to the other tomes on habit building.

  2. Liz Guthridge

    You’re welcome, Jim! Yes, Tiny Habits is transformative!

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