I am a certified Tiny Habits® coach. Here is where I blog about my experiences coaching people on Tiny Habits and about my own use of Tiny Habits. (Please note: the comments and perspectives are mine. The Tiny Habits method is from Stanford University's Dr. BJ Fogg.)

I am also available to coach you or provide training on how to use Tiny Habits in your organization to develop effective leaders,for better meeting management, on the job coaching or improved team communications. If you are interested, please sign up here or contact me directly.

Musings on the Tiny Habits® method

My reflections, notes and stories about coaching people on Tiny Habits

Tiny Habits® for leaders

I recently facilitated a women in leadership program and one thing that stuck with me, personally as well as from the reactions in the group, was how women try to do it all, especially as they rise the ranks. Nothing new there. The new part for me was that I now have a “life hack” that can help with that! Tiny Habits, based on the work of BJ Fogg, build small, starter steps that create positive emotions rather than guilt. Instead of: I need to exercise more; I need to be more patient; I need to take care of myself; I need to get on that growing to-do list…Tiny Habits can help you take one small step forward and feel good about that starter step. There is all kinds of research about the “mental load” that women tend to carry more then men (in heterosexual relationships where both partners work). And with all the women in leadership programs out there, the pressures to do it all probably won’t diminish in the near term. So, I’m going to start working on Tiny Habits for leaders…probably with more of an emphasis on women (cause do what you know) but it felt uncomfortable to narrow it from the start because I know many men who also carry that mental load and could use some help to feel better about themselves, the work they do and the leaders they are. Let’s celebrate what we are already doing and build small steps towards being even better. Wanna join me? Click here

Posted 3 weeks ago

My Tiny Habits®

Here is my personal list of Tiny Habits, based on BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habit method.

1. After my feet touch the floor in the morning, I will say ‘today is going to be a great day’. (automatic, no matter where I am)

2. After I greet my daughter in the morning, I will give her a hug. (mostly automatic)

3. After Millie pulls on the leash, I will relax my shoulders. (mostly automatic)

4. After I see someone in the street in the morning, I will make eye contact. (new habit - already increased to “say hello”)

5. After I push start on the coffee machine, I will say “I can win new work”. (weekday habit only, automatic)

6. After I pour water in my espresso, I will look at the coffee grinds. (now, I dump out the grinds and wipe off the machine, automatic)

7. After I write my to-do list for the day, I will do a 10 second plank (now a 35 second plank, weekday habit only - automatic)

8. After I check my email in the morning, I will open my client list. (weekday habit only - slipping habit - was automatic, need to reinforce now)

8. After I hear the hourly news on the radio, I will stand up (now I stretch). (weekday habit - automatic)

9. After I pee, I will do 2 push-ups (now 5 push-ups). (automatic weekday habit - expanding to include weekend.)

10. After I finish my glass of water, I will stand up (now go and refill glass). (new habit, becoming automatic)

11. After I pour a glass of water, I will look at the water jug (now I fill it up each time - automatic)

12. After I press start on the microwave at lunch, I will stand on one foot. (now do balance positions). (new habit, becoming automatic)

13. After I answer a phone call, I will stand up. (new habit, becoming automatic)

14. After I step onto the front porch after a run, I will untie my shoe laces. (now stretching as well, mostly automatic)

15. After I take off my running shirt, I will pick up my massage ball. (now rolling out hamstring) (becoming automatic)

16. After I finish my last bite of dinner, I will look at my choir binder. (working on daily practice) (new habit, still working on it!)

17. After I turn the channel to the nightly news, I will sit on the floor. (moving towards some nighttime stretching.) (new habit, still working on it!)

18. After I brush my teeth at night, I will floss one tooth (now I floss all of them). (Automatic - no matter where I am!)

19. After I open my book in bed, I will do 5 kegel exercises. (new habit, just starting it!)

20. After I turn out the light at night, I will think of one thing I’m grateful for (now I think of one thing about each of my family members that I’m grateful for - automatic, no matter where I am)

Posted 6 weeks ago
<p><b>Emotions create habits not willpower!</b></p><p>One of the key components to Standford behavioural scientist BJ Fogg’s T<a href="http://tinyhabitsacademy.org/">iny Habits
















®



 approach</a> is that you have to celebrate each time you do your new habit. Emotions create habits, not the number of repetitions, or the length of time you do something or even willpower. The emotions you feel during or immediately after doing the habit are what wire that new routine into your brain, making you want to do it again in the future. Consider if you have ever done one of those cleanses or a dry January. After you finish the official program part, do you revert back to your normal routine? Probably. </p><p>The Tiny Habits method is to pick something super small to start with and <b>celebrate</b> that tiny first step every time (until it really does become automatic). The celebration creates that positive emotion to cue those good feelings and repeat performance. </p><p><b>Really?<br/></b>I’ll admit. I was skeptical at first. When I first did the 5 day program, I thought: “Sure, I can celebrate. Wohoo.” I didn’t do it consistently after my new habits but I had pretty good success during the week (the daily check-in emails reminded me to keep it top of mind). Then the week ended and the habits didn’t stick. Oh well. On to the next thing. The thing that did stay with me though was the value of identifying a starter step to a habit. That just makes sense to me. In my <a href="http://www.learningbyhand.ca/">work</a>, I have always tried to get people to chunk concepts down into those starter concepts. So, I wanted to figure out why celebrating was so important. </p><p><b>The break through<br/></b>The best analogy or example that helped me to consider the importance of celebrations and how emotions are linked to habit formation was something BJ Fogg shared during the <a href="http://tinyhabitsacademy.org/coachcertification/">coaching certification program</a> I took:</p><p>Consider athletes. What do they do when they score or win an event? There seems to be an almost universal response to raise their arms in the air. They hug their team mates. They do a fist pump or make the gesture of a lightening bolt! Why do they do that? BJ Fogg would suggest that they are telling their brains to pay attention - that’s the behaviour they want to do again in the future. They celebrate the precise moment and create a positive emotion, sending signals to the brain to record the sequence of actions that created that emotion.  </p><p>If you want a layperson’s example, think about your reaction when you throw something into a garbage can. If you succeed, what is your automatic reaction? (“<i>Yes!</i>”) That’s you celebrating. So, we need to bring that kind of reaction to our new habits to help us take them on quickly and make them ultimately automatic. </p><p><b>Okay, so how do I celebrate?</b><br/>Once I was convinced that celebrating was necessary to create and keep new habits, then I had to figure out what worked for me. The common ones suggested were things like saying “awesome” or “yay me” or doing a fist pump or something like that. I tried saying ‘yay me’ for a while. Or doing a little pat on the back. They sort of worked. The most important piece of advice I give my coachees is to really work on finding a celebration that makes you feel like you do when you throw something and it lands in the bin! For me, it ended up being smiling. I have to physically smile to get that positive emotion in my body. </p><p>And the cool thing? I’m pretty good at forming new habits now. I’ve got the system down. And it feels pretty great to know that I can adapt and change my daily routine to fit my needs. Yasss! [smile]</p><p>/kate</p>

Emotions create habits not willpower!

One of the key components to Standford behavioural scientist BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits ® approach is that you have to celebrate each time you do your new habit. Emotions create habits, not the number of repetitions, or the length of time you do something or even willpower. The emotions you feel during or immediately after doing the habit are what wire that new routine into your brain, making you want to do it again in the future. Consider if you have ever done one of those cleanses or a dry January. After you finish the official program part, do you revert back to your normal routine? Probably. 

The Tiny Habits method is to pick something super small to start with and celebrate that tiny first step every time (until it really does become automatic). The celebration creates that positive emotion to cue those good feelings and repeat performance. 

Really?
I’ll admit. I was skeptical at first. When I first did the 5 day program, I thought: “Sure, I can celebrate. Wohoo.” I didn’t do it consistently after my new habits but I had pretty good success during the week (the daily check-in emails reminded me to keep it top of mind). Then the week ended and the habits didn’t stick. Oh well. On to the next thing. The thing that did stay with me though was the value of identifying a starter step to a habit. That just makes sense to me. In my work, I have always tried to get people to chunk concepts down into those starter concepts. So, I wanted to figure out why celebrating was so important. 

The break through
The best analogy or example that helped me to consider the importance of celebrations and how emotions are linked to habit formation was something BJ Fogg shared during the coaching certification program I took:

Consider athletes. What do they do when they score or win an event? There seems to be an almost universal response to raise their arms in the air. They hug their team mates. They do a fist pump or make the gesture of a lightening bolt! Why do they do that? BJ Fogg would suggest that they are telling their brains to pay attention - that’s the behaviour they want to do again in the future. They celebrate the precise moment and create a positive emotion, sending signals to the brain to record the sequence of actions that created that emotion.  

If you want a layperson’s example, think about your reaction when you throw something into a garbage can. If you succeed, what is your automatic reaction? (“Yes!”) That’s you celebrating. So, we need to bring that kind of reaction to our new habits to help us take them on quickly and make them ultimately automatic. 

Okay, so how do I celebrate?
Once I was convinced that celebrating was necessary to create and keep new habits, then I had to figure out what worked for me. The common ones suggested were things like saying “awesome” or “yay me” or doing a fist pump or something like that. I tried saying ‘yay me’ for a while. Or doing a little pat on the back. They sort of worked. The most important piece of advice I give my coachees is to really work on finding a celebration that makes you feel like you do when you throw something and it lands in the bin! For me, it ended up being smiling. I have to physically smile to get that positive emotion in my body. 

And the cool thing? I’m pretty good at forming new habits now. I’ve got the system down. And it feels pretty great to know that I can adapt and change my daily routine to fit my needs. Yasss! [smile]

/kate

Posted 15 weeks ago

Why I love forgetting!

When I’m coaching people on the Tiny Habits® approach, I will inevitably get someone who checks in and tells me that they didn’t do their Tiny Habit as planned but remembered later on. I have had this experience too when I set my sights on a new habit I want to do and then realize half way through the day that I totally forgot to do it. People usually apologize and write that they will try better tomorrow. But this is when I celebrate and tell my coachees (or “habiteers” as BJ Fogg calls them) that they are awesome! That moment of remembering that you forgot to do your Tiny Habit is a fantastic sign. From what I’ve learned through my coaching certification and by studying the Tiny Habits method, that is your brain working on wiring in the new routine. So, that is a big moment to celebrate, like hands up - high five - fist pump celebration. If I start to notice that I’m consistently forgetting and then remembering my Tiny Habit after a specific event, then it’s time to review my ‘recipe’ and my anchor moments to see whether my new habit would be better paired to another specific and ideally automatic moment in my day. So, forgetting (and then remembering) your Tiny Habits can actually lead to some amazing insights!

/kate

Posted 15 weeks ago

The tiny test!

When I’m coaching people on the Tiny Habits® approach the most common bit of feedback and help I have to give is on what tiny really means. Lots of people think they’ve got something small enough but it often misses the point of why it’s meant to be tiny. So, here are some thoughts on the why and the how of truly Tiny Habits.

Why should it be tiny? 

The Tiny Habits method tries to reduce the motivation or will power required to stick with the habit. The idea is to find the very first starter step towards a habit and make it so easy to do that you don’t need motivation to do it. (Of course, it helps a lot when you WANT to do the habit. Stopping habits are a whole other area that BJ Fogg is still researching!) A good analogy is to think of running a marathon. If you set a goal to run a marathon, as an amateur athlete, you wouldn’t just go out and run the entire distance. You would start with shorter runs and build your way up to the full distance. So, when you want to develop a habit of cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, you don’t tell yourself to just start cleaning up the kitchen. You need to break it down to the very first OR smallest step towards that goal. Maybe it’s cleaning one dish. That’s a tiny step towards cleaning up all the mess…because it’s just one dish. How long would that take? 

How do I know it’s tiny?

And so we get to the ‘how’. You know you’ve got a Tiny Habit when you can see yourself doing that step when you are tired, sick, stressed, rushed or any other barrier that you might decide to put up against your tiny step. Even if I’m rushing, I can probably rinse one dish after dinner. Even when I’m tired, I can floss one tooth. So, that’s the test. Does it seem ridiculously tiny? Could I do it no matter what else was going on that day? If you think ‘yeah, probably’. Okay! We’ve got something we can work with. 

And then we have to lock it down, which gets to the ‘anchor’ and the celebration - the crucial bookends for the Tiny Habits method…which I’ll get to in another post. 

/kate

Posted 15 weeks ago

Musical habits

This week I’m coaching people learning about Tiny Habits® through the free 5 day program (here). I love helping people learn about the approach and it is also fun to see the habits they want to work on. This week I have a lot of musical people who want to improve their piano or guitar practicing. Talk about kindred spirits! I just performed a 2 hour concert on the weekend with my rock choir. We are required to memorize all of our music for a performance. I definitely relied on my Tiny Habit of reviewing one piece of music the morning after a rehearsal to help me. Break it down into small chunks so it doesn’t overwhelm you - that is the essence of the Tiny Habits method in my view. The starter step to my habit was to look at my music binder. If I opened the page and reviewed a song - then that was a bonus but the starter step that I always celebrated was just looking at my binder. Make it simple! Keep it going.

Posted 15 weeks ago

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