How To Make Big Changes with Little Habits
The key to facing big changes is simplicity. Make any goal an easy peasy with this psychologically proven method.
If nature has taught us anything, it is that change is unavoidable. The changing of the seasons, rivers that swell into oceans, even the galaxies that are constantly transforming, an endless cycle of death and rebirth. So why is it so hard for us to find motivation for big changes? Although sometimes it is not a problem of inspiration, they just scare us.
We tend to put off changes because they pose a great mental and spiritual challenge, but there is no self-improvement in stillness. We want to enjoy the rewards at the end of the rainbow but we don’t even want to get up from the couch. Does anyone know if Amazon ships success? I’ve heard the drones thing has improved a lot.
Whether you look at it psychologically or philosophically, change is inevitable (Thanos snap, hehe), necessary, and most importantly challenging. That’s why we run away from it so much. Luckily for us, there is a proven way to make big changes in our lives easier.
The book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Changes Everything by psychologist B.J. Fogg enlightens us in this process. The concept is very simple: the most effective way to achieve great things through small actions every day. But… How do we do this exactly? Let’s find out!
The secret to self-improvement is in simplicity
Fogg did not always work in the behavioral sciences, his earliest work was in product design. However, while he was there, he got an idea that started a whole series of books, investigations, and studies.
His realization was clear: simple products were much better received by buyers than those that were marketed in complex ways.
This led him to join Stanford University and begin to develop this theory.
Simple things don’t demand a lot of energy or motivation. Nor do they require special talent or detailed learning. One of the “secrets” to making big changes is segmenting them into a chain of simple modifications.
In other words, by changing our mindset from I have to do x to I want to get to x, but to do that, each week/month etc, I will do 1/100th of x and work towards getting to x by a certain date.
By cutting down the level of difficulty we can work towards the end goal and use the moments in between as little victories, small rewards that reinforce our motivation.
Tiny habits: big changes
Habits are a tricky thing. It is very difficult to get rid of bad habits but even more difficult to create a new one when it is healthy at least. Training them requires time and perseverance, something that many times we don’t have. The mistake we commonly make is to leave everything in the hands of motivation because it is easy to have it at the beginning, but when you no longer have it, it depends on discipline.
We’ve all felt that little rush of adrenaline when we want to start eating better, exercising, reading more. Mondays are perfect to start a new habit, sadly by Thursday we already failed miserably.
Is it already December? I have some New Year’s Resolutions to make.
J. Fogg says that, for example, removing weeds from the garden takes at least five hours, at best, so you never find time to do it. On the other hand, if the proposal is to invest five minutes in it every day, there is a higher probability that it will be fulfilled.
If you want to drink more water, choking on a gallon bottle is not the smart thing to do. It is more effective to add a glass of water at each meal, and between them as well.
How to apply Fogg’s method
So far all these examples are simple things, hardly anyone struggles too much with it, but how do you deal with really challenging changes? How to quit smoking or have a fit lifestyle? First, Fogg recommends knowing how to focus change correctly.
Maybe you want to quit smoking to save money, or you want to be fit to look smoking hot during the summer. These mindsets are not going to take you very far, it is best to change your motivation. What you want is to quit smoking to see your children grow up to be adults, to breathe better. You want to exercise for better health, or because your family has a history of heart disease.
Your purpose may be very good, but the way you approach it may be wrong.
Now, all of this takes time, but so what, we have plenty, right? So let’s get back to the basics: segment everything into small actions. If you want to have a body like The Rock, but you have never done a Burpee in your life, the first step cannot be to exercise 8 hours a week.
Start by walking for a few miles, or by choosing the bike instead of driving to work. Dedicate a few minutes a day, simple and quick tasks that you can certainly do. As you progress, you can add other simple tasks to it. Then you can start going to the gym once a week, get used to the equipment and workouts. That way, you won’t lose all motivation from not being able to do 100 push-ups on your first day.
When you start demanding more of yourself, the habit will already be there. The important thing is to set goals so easily that it is impossible to lose motivation and abandon everything. Give your brain that sense reward feeling it craves.
On the other hand, you have to be smart about it. Take advantage of all the tools you have. Use apps to measure progress or create habits. There are hundreds out there that will help you create an exercise routine according to your goals (which we already know are tiny).
Is Fogg a world-class training coach?
No, he is a psychologist. This method is applicable for arguably anything. Learn a new language, find a new job, move to a new country. You name it.
“No one can achieve their dreams, and become the kind of person they were meant to be all at once. It’s a series of little movements, and you can only take the step that’s right in front of you.” ― Josh Hatcher
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