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How to start doing ANYTHING – with the help of a Stanford Professor

tiny-habits

Have you ever wondered, how to start exercising, how to stop forgetting your stuff at home, or how to be more focused throughout the day?

Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab Director may help you accomplish just that.

He recently launched a one-week program called “3 tiny habits“. In this free program, people are required to come up with 3 tiny, tiny, behaviors that lead to their goals, and are guided on how to implement the change.

A few weeks ago I was one of the program’s participants.

These were the tiny habits I wanted to integrate in my life:

BJ Fogg’s 3 Tiny Habits Program
  1. Think of one thing that makes me feel appreciative after I wake up in the morning.
  2. Consider my biggest priority for the rest of the day after I finish lunch.
  3. Meditate for two breaths after I go to bed at night.

These habits align well with my goals of becoming happier and more focused in 2012 🙂 This is the exact reason I came up with them.

What do the above behaviors have in common?

  1. They are tiny. Really tiny. When I think about them I feel absolutely no resistance to do them. They are THAT easy and simple.
  2. They are tied to an activity I do every day: I wake up every day; I eat lunch every day; I go to bed every day. Each one of these activities serves as an anchor of the new one – so that actually I remember to do it.

During the 1-week three tiny habits program I was receiving daily messages from BJ Fogg on my progress with my three new behaviors. Did I do them every day? You bet I did! Did I keep all those habits after I “graduated” from this one week? Not exactly.

After the week was over I decided I would combine habits 1 and 3: I would think of something to feel appreciation for, and I would meditate for two breaths, after going to bed. Why? Because at night I feel more reflective than in the morning, so the appreciation behavior is a better match for the night. Plus, appreciation and meditation complement each other perfectly!

As for habit Nr. 2 – thinking of my biggest priority after lunch – I re-scheduled it. Why? Because it didn’t feel “natural” at noon. This is why I “unofficially” transferred it in the morning, right after breakfast. I say “unofficially” because even though I do it most of the times, I don’t have “deciding on my biggest priority for the day” as something that I must do every day. Nevertheless, I naturally think of what to do during the day in the morning, hence I naturally find myself considering my biggest priority. I guess this “natural” part of my morning ritual shows that I have already made “thinking of my biggest priority” a habit! 🙂 Yay!

The best thing I have noticed through this program is…forgetting to stop. I love meditating for two breaths every night so much that it is never just two breaths. I don’t know how many they are because I stop counting after 2. But it feels so good that I cannot stop.

I added appreciation to meditation and made my nights before sleeping my “happy hour”. I honestly look forward to these moments every day!

Plus, did I mention that I wanted to start meditation for years…but never actually did that until the Tiny Habits week? How awesome is that?

Would I do I re-do this program? Definitely!

  1. I love reading BJ Fogg’s notes throughout the week. He sometimes sends his thoughts on the program. I am a big fan of his work and cannot get enough of his material!
  2. I can think of quite a few behaviors I’d like to add. Like checking for crumbles after I serve food. Or, putting a book back to its place once I am done reading. Or, doing a few stretches when I wake up.

However, even if I never repeat this program, I am now confident in my ability of creating new habits for myself.

Inspired by this experience, here are my recommendations on how to add a new habit in your life:

  1. Think what part of your life you would like to improve. E.g., become neater, eat healthier, etc. Avoid negative goals that include “stop” or “less”. Eg., instead of saying “stop eating junk food”, say “start eating healthier”, or instead of saying “take the car less”, say “walk more”.
  2. Come up with a new behavior that aligns with your goals. E.g., if you want to eat healthier, you may decide to eat one bite of a carrot every day. Avoid using time limits, e.g., instead of saying “I will work out for 3o sec”, say “I will do 3 pushups”.
  3. Consider the activities that you do every day, like waking up, putting your kids to bed, eating dinner, etc. These are potential anchors.
  4. Now, match your new behavior with one of the anchors.
  5. Congratulate yourself for starting this new path! Now you can start doing your new activity every day.

Some final notes:

1. Always congratulate yourself for remembering to perform the new behavior, and then congratulate him/her again when you actually perform the behavior.

2. If you forget to do it, then just do it when you remember about it. Congratulate yourself for remembering to do your new behavior, even if you don’t remember about it on time! 🙂

So what tiny behaviors would you like to add to your life? Why?

If interested in joining BJ Fogg’s program, then click here.

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