I have deliberately kept this article away from the New year to try and establish and promote why resolutions don’t really work. I have managed to read 119 of pages of Tiny Habits (300 pages in total) by BJ Fogg and attempted to include 3 tiny habits on the back of this. Coincidentally, I started these in January but definitely not as resolutions and I think you will see why.
Tiny Habits is based on the equation of motivation/ability and prompt to help change a behaviour. We need to decide which behaviours we want to change. One tiny action, one small bite, might feel insignificant at first, but it allows you to gain the momentum you need to ramp up to bigger challenges and faster progress.
A behaviour is something you can do right now or at another specific point in time. You can only achieve aspirations and outcomes over time if you execute the right specific behaviours. Probably the most important thing is that prompt comes before motivation and hopefully you will see why.
Most New Year resolutions are based on being highly motivated on the eve of New Year, or something individuals have always wanted to do. As you can see, resolutions are not just based on motivation as this naturally goes up and down over a period of time.
My 3 tiny habits are
- As well as my regular walks, to do some additional exercise using the red dumbbells as my prompt first thing in the morning. I started by just doing 2 or 3 lifts and I am now regularly lifting the dumbbells 20 times for each exercise plus a gentle workout each morning. Only 15 minutes but it is better than nothing.
- I have never looked after my teeth properly and have found flossing an impossibility but using a tepe should be a piece of cake. So, when I clean my teeth now, I have the yellow tepe as my prompt to use them each morning. This has now become a habit. Habits normally take about 30 days of action to become a habit.
- My final tiny habit is to drink more water during the day which hopefully will help me stop snacking so much. My prompt for this in my aluminium water bottle which I fill each morning at breakfast time when I see it in the kitchen (as long as somebody in the family hasn’t put it away) Funnily enough this is the activity I have been the least successful at.
In early February, I had a blood test which placed me in the prediabetes category. Helped by the Tiny Habits, I have already lost a stone in weight and because I am already in a Tiny Habits regime of changing my lifestyle, rather than being on a diet, it is working well. I still have that feeling in an evening of wanting chocolate, or maybe an alcoholic drink which I have at the weekend as a treat, and that is OK.
I accept my new activities aren’t going to change the world as Admiral Mc Raven discusses in the following 15-minute video. I am not looking to change the world, just do a few things I have failed to do in the past. As per the book Tiny Habits, I don’t beat myself up for any slight lapse.
So, if you are suffering from lockdown boredom why don’t you change some behaviours and start small like me?
My simple interpretation of the video describing a Seal’s 6-month gruelling training are the following: –
- Make your bed – discipline – little things matter – pride.
- Everyone must paddle – you can’t do it all on your own.
- The will to succeed – the size of the heart is what matters – not the size of the body.
- Weekly inspections were never quite enough – life is not always fair.
- Daily events were meant to test the participants to the core – don’t be afraid to fail often.
- Obstacle course – doing things differently – take risks.
- Night swim with sharks in the water – face down the bullies.
- Swimming under water for 2 miles in increasing darkness – step up when times are difficult.
- Spending the night on freezing mud flats – one person started singing – hope from one person.
- At any time, you can ring the bell – throw the towel in – Never give up.
So how does this book and video hang together. Not many of us want to be an American Navy seal. I think the Tiny Habits formula can get anybody on the first tiny steps to change, or to do something they have not done before. Although most of us won’t want to change the world, most of Admiral McRaven’s tips apply to everyday life helping make us more influential and successful. But if you don’t make the first tiny step ……………