I am a huge fan of the Tiny Habits system that BJ Fogg teaches. I have participated in his email program various times and have successfully created the habit of flossing almost a year ago. This is the tiny habit formula I used: After I brush my teeth, I will floss one tooth and then celebrate - I usually do a tiny celebratory dance in my bathroom. I’m a geek, I know.
I admit that I have fallen off track a bunch of times but mostly because I stopped celebrating my tiny successes like BJ suggests. I stopped celebrating because I thought the habit was already embedded in my behavior. Other times I forgot to bring floss with me on trips which breaks my behavior chain. But because the habits that you design are so tiny it is easier to get back in the routine. You are no longer failing at flossing for the rest of your life and ruining your dental health which is a daunting feeling and makes the failure seem that much more personal and damming. You are simply failing at flossing one tooth after you brush your teeth, which is easier to recover from than the later. It is easier to review where you went wrong and how to make the change necessary to start over. In addition to being able to fix failures with more ease, small successes give us the boost in morale and motivation to make other positive changes in our life. That is how you go from flossing just one tooth to flossing all your teeth. Once you floss one tooth and you get the high from your celebration of success it is easier to finish flossing all your teeth.
With all of this in mind, I am trying to redesign my morning and night routines using the tiny habit methods. My current day to day operations are very loose and all over the place. I have worked from home for a couple on months and loosing the routine of going to the office every day has destroyed the structure in my day. Loosing the structure has made it more difficult to keep on track with projects and easier to fall into bad habits like watching too much Netflix and wasting time on the internet. This has caused me to feel an overwhelming sense of guilt that fuels my desire to completely redesign my schedule and daily routines. The danger with trying to make big behavior changes, like exercising every day, is that they are hard to stick to when motivation is low. However by making the change small enough it is easier to stick to the routine even when motivation is low, and then build on to the small successes.
Here is a tiny habit that I want to try in the following week to help me start changing my routine.
After I wake up, I will get out of bed and stretch my arms over my head.
Even though this is a very tiny change it has potential for a huge impact. Currently, the first thing I do when I wake up is unlock my phone and check facebook, instagram, email, or start playing a game on my iPhone. Not a great way to start the day. Eventually I would like to build on this habit to check my calendar after stretching to review my schedule for the day.