Creating new habits, one blade of grass at a time.

Yay, it’s spring, and I’m struck by the greening up of nature and all the signs of new life. It reminds me that I could use a little renewal myself. For various reasons, I was not able to run during the months of January and February, but once March rolled around I was ready to get back out there. Now the month is almost over, and I’ve only been on a run a few times. This once-ingrained habit has completely vanished, and that block of time has been filled with other commitments. I really want to restart my routine of running three or four times a week, but how can I add more to my day when I’m already so busy?

B. J. Fogg, PhD, creator of The Tiny Habits method of behavioral change, looks at habits as a gardener might, and since I love to garden this approach struck a cord. Notice how a lush, green lawn starts with just one blade of grass. Likewise, we should start with a very small part of our larger goal and nurture it until it grows into the full habit we desire. Fogg had the most success when he followed these three steps (using the example of flossing his teeth):

Step One: Choose an existing routine after which you will add your new habit so you won’t forget to do it.
He added the habit of flossing right after he brushed his teeth at night.

Step Two: Start with just a small part of the goal.
Dr. Fogg began by flossing just one tooth!

Step Three: Celebrate immediately.
He told himself, “If everything ends up awful today, at least I did one thing right: I flossed one tooth. Good for me—Victory!”

Dr. Fogg slowly added another tooth, and then another until he was easily flossing all of his teeth without even thinking. Then he started flossing after he brushed his teeth in the morning, too.  He started with a very small thing, like one blade of grass, and kept at it until he reached his ultimate goal.

Since I want to get back into the habit of running at least three times a week, I’ve broken down my first steps toward the goal in this way:

Step One: Choose an existing routine after which you will add your new habit so you won’t forget to do it.
As soon as I finish my cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but before I have breakfast, I will drink a glass of water to hydrate then go out for my run.

Step Two: Start with just a small part of the goal.
I will only run the circle around my neighborhood (a portion of my usual route), until I feel very comfortable with it. I will begin by doing this just on Saturdays since I don’t typically have anything else scheduled then.

Step Three: Celebrate immediately.
I will tell myself, “Great job! You’re getting stronger with each step.”

What small habit would you like to add? Perhaps you want to start walking every day or start drinking more water throughout the day. How would you follow this example to approach  your goal? To understand The Tiny Habits method more fully read the entire article that I reference below, then feel free to share your three steps in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Copyright © by Bobbi Mullins, published March 30, 2019




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