Tiny Habits

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Yesterday I started Tinyhabits.com.

What it is:

Dr. BJ Fogg believes you can change your behavior, one step at a time. Got something that bugs you? Pick 3 new habits you’ve been wanting to do. You can choose from default suggestions or write your own from scratch. Send them to Dr. BJ Fogg.

Then do them during one week, Monday through Friday. In return, you get a daily message and inspiring words from Dr. Fogg, who believes you can change your behavior, one step at a time.

You can even revise your habits along the way–you don’t have to feel weighed down or obligated by yourself. Which, I believe, is part of the problem when we try to go after bad habits with a scythe.

When I came across this concept while reading “The Impact Equation,” it instantly gripped me. I decided not to ignore that fascination.

My Three Habits:

  • After I come home from work, I will get myself on the elliptical for 30 minutes.
  • After I see the clock strike 9 PM, I will start getting ready for bed no matter what.
  • After I hear the alarm in the morning, I will say, “I’m glad to be able to see what cool things will happen today.”

One of the things Dr. Fogg stresses is that you write these down. I took it to mean not just when I’d typed them in the online forms, but handwritten on a notepad in front of me, too.

How it went:

After work I had three errands that had piled up on me during the day: Get mulch for the garden, lettuce for the guinea pig, and gas for the car.

I don’t always like running errands. Well, let me put it more accurately: I like running errands for fun things, like books, versus dull things, like grocery stores (I say this despite being almost perpetually hungry). It was a drag to have to do all these things before I could go home and relax. I wasn’t looking forward to the inflated traffic or dealing with the public.

But I did them because I had to do them, and while I was doing them I realized that it wasn’t so bad.

In fact, it was actually pleasant.

I didn’t have to wend my way through clogs of people. There were no lines at the checkout. No unreasonable wait for traffic. No one in my way or being rude.

I got home with my lettuce and a rotisserie chicken that had followed me to the checkout lane that I couldn’t wait to eat.

Shoot. I still had to exercise.

What occurred to me later

Had I only made the promise to myself, I don’t know what I would have done. Probably justified that I’d exercise later (even though the likelihood of that drops the longer the evening wears on), or could skip today because I’d walked up and down X number of stairs at work.

But because I’d written my habits down, they were in front of my eyes. I could see myself writing them down. I could see the piece of paper. It was tactile and unmistakable.

More, I’d sent them to a stranger. I was accountable to someone else as well, and to this program I’d signed up for myself by choice. Never mind that he wouldn’t know if I didn’t do it. That wasn’t the point.

The point is these habits were my decisions and ones that made me feel good. Doable. Little pieces of a big goal.

So I got on my elliptical. And I felt better afterward, the way I always know I will.

Aftermath

I think what happened today was that the mere act of writing down habits I intended to do helped me see that I could do them. I could instill them beyond the paper. It was entirely my choice and under my control.

Sometimes I use that too much in the negative sense, choosing to sit on the couch instead of doing something active, choosing that bag of chips instead of an awesome Honeycrisp apple.

While I know all too well the astonishing amount of faultless excuses I can give myself to not do something, it wasn’t working this time. I had no one but myself to tell me not to slack, and somehow, just for that day, that was enough.

And it’s awakened something in me. I’m looking at things differently, ever so slightly, but differently all the same. Instead of after-work chores being a drag, I was part of my surroundings, moving with them instead of through them. And everything flowed from there. One of the things I want to make time for is to write. Here I am, writing.

It’s pretty great!

What’s been your experience with TinyHabits.com or something similar?

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