BJ Fogg, a Stanford professor, suggests that we don’t have to get entangled in taking huge actions in order to achieve our goals. Instead, he recommends small, but measurable shifts that, one by one, build up to our bigger goals over time. These are known as micro habits, which are really just small steps toward starting something new.
This idea doesn’t depend on the traditional methods we tend to tap into (such as willpower, unrealistic goal setting, guilt, etc.). Imagine the capacity to efficiently and sustainably change your habits with skill and practice, and without guilt or temporary motivation. What would you incorporate into your daily life? Would you exercise more, budget better, or even spend more time with your family?
Because they are easy and prevent you from making excuses, micro habits really work. To develop a micro habit, choose something you want to learn or change and incorporate it into your current routine, like eating breakfast. This establishes the “trigger, craving, reward” cycle. You’ll start doing it without thinking about it once it becomes part of your routine – just like brushing your teeth.
Here are some examples of micro habits:
- Have one less serving of caffeine a day.
- Write a thank you note once each week.
- Sit in silence for a few minutes every day.
- Eat one more serving of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Drink a glass of water daily first thing in the morning.
- Stand up and stretch every hour on the hour every day.
- Start by taking a jog around your block once daily instead of attempting a full mile.
- Turn off all notifications daily for at least one long block of work time.
It all starts with tiny steps versus just taking one large step at a time, and once a micro habit is established, it can develop from there.
“Use Micro Habits to Tackle Big Health and Productivity Goals,” Julie Compton, nbcnews.com, June 1, 2017.
“The Power Of Small Tweaks And Tiny Habits,” Bonnie St. John, huffingtonpost.com, Sept. 19, 2016.
“25 Tiny Habits That Could Totally Change Your Life,” Annie Mueller, lifehack.org, accessed Aug. 15, 2017.