Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch …

It's a habit...get it? A Habit?

If you know that line in the headline, you’re a Three Stooges fan. Or at least old enough to remember them. And it’s reflecting my effort to establish new habits, using the BJ Fogg “Three Tiny Habits” experiment, or program, or system – whatever he calls it. Fogg, a Stanford professor, is watching and learning from folks he invites through Twitter to form new habits. So I jumped on board. And here’s what I’m learning.
Fogg says the way to form new habits means doing some things in tiny (30 seconds or less) bites. He invites his followers to choose three tiny habits and begin to practice making them AUTOMATIC. That’s the key … automaticity.
For example, after I come into the house, I will hang my coat in the coat closet. After I go up the stairs, I will drop my keys in the key bowl. After I brush, I will pick up the floss. The trick is to say it in your head, then do it, do it, do it.
It’s working. I don’t HAVE to floss after I pick up the floss, I just have to have done the action… and in just a few days it becomes pretty automatic.
Fogg dismisses the idea that it takes 21 or 30 or whatever days people say to form a new habit. He says what he’s learned is it takes making it automtic, however long that is – days or longer.
So as we approach the season of setting goals, creating new habits, and practicing being just all around better people, what tiny changes might you make to create a habit? I can tell you my dentist is gonna love mine the next time I see him!

About loricallister

A learner, trying to keep away from the tar pit at all times. Sassy, but not bossy. Girly but not fussy. I ponder, and sometimes I overthink. Is that so bad?
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6 Responses to Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch …

  1. Ramiro says:

    BJ says to make the habit automatic? I get it but, to play devil’s advocate, aren’t we in a circular logic? To make it automatic, don’t we need to have establish the habit first? So we need to say it in our heads… I can understand that. That requires some conscious effort. So I guess to establish a habit we need to exert some energy into making a conscious effort… Is there anything groundbreaking that I am missing? seems like typical habit-creation stuff, that we know all along.
    Please keep posting about this, I am interested!

    • Well, I do him a disservice by simplifying. But here’s his point: the trigger is the most important thing – put a hot trigger in front of a motivated person and you’ll get behavior changes. So he’s teaching us how to put a trigger in our paths to make it stick. Then once it’s in our patterns of behavior, we can more easily incorporate more challenging/lengthy habits/changes in our lives. Check out more in his behavior model … it’s been so useful to me to make some simple changes – like flossing. Let me know what you think!

  2. Ramiro says:

    Hi Lori, yes, I get it now, I think the key to getting the habit to be automatic is what he does linking or anchoring a new behavior to one that is already firmly in place. I signed up for the 3 Tiny Habits course that he is running this week and I get it. I expect it to work, except I was having trouble coming up with a behavior that I do all the time. I do behaviors all the time, but they are so fuzzy that I was having trouble coming up with a clear behavior so I came up with the flossing behavior. Also, because getting up in the morning is firmly in place, the other goal is to shower right after getting up from bed. The third one is hanging my keys to the hook next to the door frame. Let’s see how it goes! Have a nice week and happy Holidays!

    • Sounds like good goals. I wonder if BJ will say the shower act is too big/takes too long to fit his criteria. I would suggest: After I get up, I will turn on the shower water. Gotta say, my little habits are in place – flossing regularly among them. Now it’s on to exercising more/carving out time for 12,000 steps a day – now that is NOT a small habit!
      Keep me posted.

  3. Jake Butler says:

    Hi Lori – I worked on an app based on BJ Fogg’s work at Stanford that’s focused on the New Year’s Resolution crowd exclusively. It’s the same idea – don’t make some huge, generic goal, but instead make a small, specific goal that will contribute to making that big goal a success. Small decisions + time=big changes – overwhelming guilt of a singular “failure”. Let me know what you think (and BTW – loving thy flying nun reference; you like me?! you really like me!)

    • Oh my gosh, I never posted a reply to you sorry. I started a new job, life took off, and here it is spring. Just posted a new post tangentially related to habits. I think this is an interesting topic to keep exploring. What does motivate us, after all?

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