Newton’s First Law states that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. I think of habits in a similar manner. Once we have created a habit, we cannot just stop it. We can only replace the old habit with a new habit. Because once a habit is in motion, it will remain unless we act upon it (i.e. replace it). Check out this Q and A with Charlie DuHigg, author of The Power of Habit, which provides more valuable insight into behavior change.
As a dietitian, I know quite well that habits drive behaviors, whether healthy or unhealthy. I myself have some “unhealthy” habits, such as late night snacking, reading my emails/checking FB/Twitter/Pinterest on my phone before I go to bed, and even putting off writing blog posts because “I don’t have time.” After some much-needed inspiration from Dan VanderBloomen’s, “My Habits are Tiny” post, I decided to follow Dan’s lead and sign up for Dr. BJ Fogg’s “3 Tiny Habits.” His program is essentially a way to create new habits that seem tiny but provide a sense of accomplishment and can add up or progress to larger habit change. You create three tiny habits that you perform each day for an entire week, along with a small celebratory phrase that you say to yourself (or out loud) every time you successfully perform the habit. Check out the above link for more info on BJ Fogg’s program (which is free and with which I am not associated). Consider these tiny habits as baby steps to reaching larger goals. For an example demonstrating the importance and usefulness of baby steps, we go to Bill Murray AKA Bob:
My three tiny habits for this week (starting today) and celebrations each time I complete one of the habits are:
The first habit, “After I drink my morning coffee, I will write one line in my blog,” is of course to get me to commit and make time for writing my blog. By starting with something tiny, i.e. writing one line in my blog versus writing a whole post, the behavior/habit seems more doable. And most likely, once I sit down to write one line, I will write several lines or even a whole post.
The second habit, “After I eat dinner, I will put water in the tea kettle,” is meant to help with the aforementioned “bad” habit of late-night snacking. Putting water in the tea kettle will spark me to turn the kettle on and make myself tea, which will act as a replacement to other late-night snacks I would otherwise eat.
The third habit, “After I lay down in bed at night, I will take three deep breaths,” is meant to help me unwind a bit from the day and also put my body in a more relaxed, “bedtime” state. This will [ideally] add up to me going to sleep rather than spending 30 minutes on my iPhone checking emails, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Ugh anyone else hate to love Pinterest??
Next week, I will report back on the way my week went down and whether or not these behaviors became habits. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out BJ Fogg’s website and create 3 tiny habits of your own.