The tiny test!
When I’m coaching people on the Tiny Habits® approach the most common bit of feedback and help I have to give is on what tiny really means. Lots of people think they’ve got something small enough but it often misses the point of why it’s meant to be tiny. So, here are some thoughts on the why and the how of truly Tiny Habits.
Why should it be tiny?
The Tiny Habits method tries to reduce the motivation or will power required to stick with the habit. The idea is to find the very first starter step towards a habit and make it so easy to do that you don’t need motivation to do it. (Of course, it helps a lot when you WANT to do the habit. Stopping habits are a whole other area that BJ Fogg is still researching!) A good analogy is to think of running a marathon. If you set a goal to run a marathon, as an amateur athlete, you wouldn’t just go out and run the entire distance. You would start with shorter runs and build your way up to the full distance. So, when you want to develop a habit of cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, you don’t tell yourself to just start cleaning up the kitchen. You need to break it down to the very first OR smallest step towards that goal. Maybe it’s cleaning one dish. That’s a tiny step towards cleaning up all the mess…because it’s just one dish. How long would that take?
How do I know it’s tiny?
And so we get to the ‘how’. You know you’ve got a Tiny Habit when you can see yourself doing that step when you are tired, sick, stressed, rushed or any other barrier that you might decide to put up against your tiny step. Even if I’m rushing, I can probably rinse one dish after dinner. Even when I’m tired, I can floss one tooth. So, that’s the test. Does it seem ridiculously tiny? Could I do it no matter what else was going on that day? If you think ‘yeah, probably’. Okay! We’ve got something we can work with.
And then we have to lock it down, which gets to the ‘anchor’ and the celebration - the crucial bookends for the Tiny Habits method…which I’ll get to in another post.