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My 3 Tiny Habits


2012-10-19

After hearing the name ‘BJ Fogg’ mentioned on Ramit Sethi’s website multiple times, I decided to take a quick gander and see if I could learn more about him. I found his Tiny Habits website and quickly decided to take the challenge to see how well it worked for me.

A quick overview of the concept is that you pick a habit that you want to form, break it down to its lowest manageable chunk, perform that chunk after a very ingrained ‘anchor’ in your day, and then praise yourself on having done the habit to bring in some positive reinforcement.

What were my habits, you ask? *After [anchor], I will [habit] .*

  1. After I get out of bed, I will do 3 push-ups.
  2. After I brush my teeth at night, I will floss 1 tooth.
  3. After I brush my teeth in the morning, I will drink a glass of water.

I know, I know, my habits are kind of boring, but this was as much a test of BJ Fogg’s system, as it was trying to make me do certain things at certain times. Also, I was curious as to whether using the same anchor for different habits depending on time of day would skew my results, but it seems to be okay.

After a dismal start to the effort, where I completely forgot that I needed to do the Tiny Habits, I started progressing and was able to do my 3 Tiny Habits daily. The first roadblock I encountered was just plain forgetting that there were habits to perform. I didn’t have internet at home so I didn’t get the continual emails from Dr. Fogg reminding me. However, after the first day, I did get a daily text from my girlfriend about them (as she decided to start doing them at the same time).

With that out-of-the-way, the next challenge was (and is still) the positive reinforcement. Two problems here: 1) I forget that I should positively reinforce myself, and 2) I don’t know what a good technique is for me. I’ve tried the various options that Dr. Fogg has suggested (cheering out loud, internal positive thoughts, physical manifestations, combinations of the aforementioned techniques, …) but they don’t really elicit the emotions from me that they should. The celebration I’ve settled on is an internal “Booyah!” or “BAM!” and an outward smirk, as those are the responses I would usually convey after a job well-done.

The most recent problem which just cropped up is that my habits and anchors seem to be distinctly tied to places that I’m used to living. So, I have no trouble doing them every morning when I wake up in London or when I stay with family just outside of London (both being locations I am very familiar with) but I was only 2 out of 7 on my habits while in Oxford recently. I remembered them at some point each day, but only was able to pull through on flossing. It’s quite possible that the habits just aren’t ingrained enough yet, but perhaps there is something else going on.

I am sort of curious about how chaining new habits will turn out. For instance, I brush my teeth and then drink water. Will drinking water be a new anchor for which to base other Tiny Habits on? How long does it take for a habit to be ingrained enough to become an anchor? Does chaining anchors cause a chained failure effect if the original anchor doesn’t occur?

I think the best idea might be to ask Dr. Fogg about these questions, rather than perplex myself into a stupor…