Posted: July 26, 2017
Often, we have the capability for a desired behavior -we can do (or keep ourselves from doing) a behavior if given optimal circumstances. But we can’t get it to happen reliably in all relevant contexts.
As therapists, when we see that a behavior isn’t reliably happening in all needed contexts, we default to assuming the problem is not enough motivation and intervene to strengthen motivation. Rather than rely solely on motivation, you can DESIGN and BUILD behavior change with scheduled baby steps. I’ve been working to strengthen this core competency by playing with tiny habits and habit-stacking to support my own and my client’s behavior change.
If this is interesting to you, try a week-long experiment with tiny habits. BJ Fogg, a researcher at Stanford, gives away his method in a super helpful bite-by-bite way (and it’s free!). You can go to this link and register for the next Tiny Habits Session http://www.tinyhabitsacademy.org/
In brief, a “Tiny Habit” is a behavior —
- you do at least once a day
- that takes you less than 30 seconds
- that requires little effort
You use an already established anchor, something you already nearly always do, a well-established habit. After I _[anchor]__, I will [tiny habit].
To get the hang of the tiny habit steps, I started with the easiest set I could think of (that still were important to me). For example:
After I start the coffee, I will:
1. drink a glass of water
2. take a vitamin
3. mindfully notice the present moment using all my senses
After 2 weeks, I’ve found that all the above are regularly happening and I am kind of smitten with how fun this is.
–Noah Clyman, LCSW-R, ACT