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Take a moment and think about what you could accomplish in a week, a month, or even a year if you created tiny habits today and kept building them up over time. Trying to make massive changes all at once usually leads to burn out or failure, but taking small baby steps with tiny habits toward a bigger goal is doable, sustainable, and a road to success. So why would you choose to do a little habit tweak and how do you choose your new habits?
Our brain is set to autopilot so when we try to change our life by tweaking a habit, it sets off an alarm, unless you make it a small tweak. Small shifts and changes are not as tough for us to pull off and easier to find space in our day to change them around. For instance, you want to drink more water. Instead of deciding you will drink 64 ounces, figure out how much you are already drinking regularly. Then add a little more so it is easier to fit into your day. That little habit tweak will help you build a new habit.
Habits of all kinds – both good and bad – have compounding effects, which means the more you do something, the greater the results. So the more frequently you lace up those sneakers and run, you’ll achieve superior cardiovascular health, you’ll be in enviable shape, and the better your chances of finishing a marathon. Likewise, the more frequently you drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, or partake in other detrimental habits, the more health problems you’ll encounter over time.
What is a Tiny Habit?
Tiny habits are simply those actions we take every single day without thinking about it. Brushing your teeth twice a day and washing your hands after using the bathroom are just instinctive because it’s what we were taught as kids and that action was reinforced by our parents and our teachers. These tiny habits are also quick and easy, sometimes less than two minutes, so we don’t even notice them taking up any time out of our day.
In the example above regarding lacing up your sneakers, certainly you need much more time than two minutes to improve your health benefits; but adding an extra two minutes to your current running workout is negligible. Adding another two minutes the next week you probably still won’t notice. Keep increasing your time by two minutes and soon enough you’ll be running longer distances. Adding these small increments of time is sustainable and harmless whereas thinking you can run a 26.2 mile marathon when your current training is only 30-minutes long is simply foolish.
How to Choose Your New Habits
Every single area of your life can be improved with the help of tiny habits; just do a bit of soul-searching to decide where you want to focus or what specifically needs improving. Having a goal in mind will lead you in the right direction and these tiny habits will build the processes necessary to reach those goals. Think about how you want your life to look a year from now or even 2 years from now. Having that picture in mind can help you consider the little habit tweaks you need to make so you can choose your new habits.
- Health. Create a tiny habit to drink more water or to eat more produce daily. Plan ahead so you have produce and bottled water available. Within a few weeks, your body will be craving even more water and preparing produce with meals will become second nature. Decide to add 1 vegetable at lunch or dinner so you slowly add up those vegetables.
- Relationships. One tiny habit is to spend 10 minutes reconnecting with your spouse or partner after a long day of work. This simple act is even more important if you have children running to various activities or if one of you travels a lot. Do you have a regularly scheduled date night? Get in the habit of hiring a babysitter and putting your adult relationship first.
- Business. Create firm business hours – especially if you work from home – or start using the Pomodoro technique to accomplish projects or meet deadlines. The Pomodoro Technique is as simple as using a kitchen timer to block off 25-minute increments where you focus on a task until the timer rings. Take a 5-minute break, and then reset the timer.
These are just a few ideas; you’re only limited by your own creativity and by what aspect of your life you need to focus on and want to improve.
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So what little habit tweak will you work on this week? Do you have some new habits that you would like to fit into your busy schedule?