Tiny Habits Are Key to Long-term Happiness

 Living a Fulfilled Life Involves Making A Series of Minor Tweaks to Your Daily Routine, and the Ways In Which You Interact With Others. With the Assistance, Accountability, and Experience of a Certified Coach, You'll Form these Positive Habits in A Way in Which You'll Enhance Your Overall Well-Being.

forming positive habitsIn order to make the necessary changes to find fulfillment and achieve our goals, it's best to integrate small changes into our lives that become habits.  To make habits stick, your coach will guide you on forming them slowly and over time. Oftentimes it’s beyond human capabilities to make too many huge changes, and for them to last as you build more small changes that shift your life perspective and purpose on earth. Instead, build upon a series of tiny habits in order of importance.

 

 

When those small changes become habits, they shift from intentional to automatic. You'll continually be able to build upon your next most impactful behavior on top of your existing habits and work your way to the life you seek, one step at a time. After working with your coach, you ultimately won’t have to think about that first behavior, and you can dedicate your energy toward forming the next most important behavior as a habit.

 

 

 

Big goals are more easily accomplished when we break them down into manageable pieces. And Rome wasn’t built in a day, Rather than setting an overly-ambitious goal and finding yourself with a month to achieve it, we are advocates of starting small with a strong base and building upon it over time. Set small goals and don’t get discouraged. If great weight loss is your goal, it may be helpful to set monthly goals for the full 12 months. And keep them adjustable, so long as you’re not making excuses. Setting behavioral goals is often a good way to make micro-accomplishments on the way to a larger goal. Celebrate those small steps but challenge yourself. Set the behavioral goal of going to the gym X times per week. That way you set manageable goals, linked indirectly to a target weight.

 

TheHookModel

 

The study of Habit Formation, led by psychologist B.J. Fogg and built upon and applied to designing products, Nir Eyal, among many more, lend us frameworks for habit formation. In his best-selling book, “Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products”, Eyal (and Fogg) tell us that having a trigger is the first key to forming a new habit. We’re talking about that notification, symbol, or reminder that triggers the instinct telling us a behavior is supposed to be performed. It starts out as a conscious thing. “Oh yeah, it’s time to do X or Y”. But quicker than you might expect, you start to internalize that external reminder. Especially so when in the early stages of forming a habit, reminders and notifications serve as the “Trigger” in BJ Fogg’s theory of behavior: B= MAT. B = behavior. M = motivation. A = Ability. T = Trigger. If you don’t want to burn out before March, you need these three elements to form a habit.

fogg habit model

 

 

Behavior change happens when people repeat desired behaviors and avoid undesired behaviors consistently over time; long enough for the behaviors to go from deliberate and energy-sapping to automatic and energy-efficient.  According to “The Power of Full Engagement” by Loere and Schwartz, the science tells us that roughly 90% of all our activities are habit-driven; illustrating the limitations of relying on self control and willpower to change behaviors.

 

 

 

Motivation is important in the early stages of doing the behavior, but it becomes less relevant after a person forms habits around the behavior. In other words, the first 30 days are key. Reminders serve as that critical trigger to let you know it’s time to be mindful of your resolution; it may start externally, with a push notification from your smartphone, but it will eventually become internalized. You won’t have to think about it anymore, and neither will those with whom that resolution involves.

 

 

positive reinforcementLook for positive reinforcement. Don’t throw a pity party. And don’t go fishing for compliments. This tactic is merely meant for you to pay attention to those around you. When you get a compliment, say “Thank You”. No matter what you were trained to think as a child, believe that people are genuine when they reinforce your behaviors. What’s more, don’t be shy when it comes to doling out genuine compliments yourself. Prosocial behavior, things we do for others without necessarily expecting something back, is contagious. The more you compliment others, they more compliments will go around — and inevitably, if you’re sticking to your resolution, some will come your way.

 

 

 

People are cognitive misers. That’s a nice way of saying we don’t like to spend unnecessary mental energy making decisions when we can use mental shortcuts to determine our best course of action. That decision is almost always slanted towards convenience in the moment, unless a habit exists. When it comes to wellness decision making, the moment is everything.

 

 

 

busy calendarTo quote MIT Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely, “when thinking about ourselves in the future, we are all wonderful people who make great choices”. In other words, we’re really bad at predicting how we’ll act in the future. Scientists call this affective forecasting. We’re terrible at predicting the emotions our future selves will feel, the behaviors and excuses they will and won’t make. It’s a form of learned helplessness when we don’t think our actions will make a difference. We tell ourselves, “If only I get X, then I’ll be happy. And "when I’m happy, I will start to work out”. The problem is, when we get to X, we adapt and our future present selves are like our past selves: they don’t want to do Y right now. And we push it off to our new future selves who act rationally all the time and always do what our past selves expected of them.

 

 

 

To help you in defining your “what”, “why”, “how”, and the steps like action planning and other techniques listed above, consider following a clearly defined set of questions that scientists use when designing behavior change interventions. It’s sounds fancy, but it’s pretty simple and takes no time at all.

 

 

To simplify, behavioral scientist design behavior change interventions in the following manner. Tali uses this method in helping her clients leverage what they can from this approach, according to their goals; and oftentimes this process, when used with appropriate coaching and supervision, can serve a large piece of the puzzle clients aim to solve. In other words, the answer to these questions not only help us clearly define our goals, but also force us to take action toward removing barriers and obstacles to achieving them:

 

designing behavior change

1. Define behavior(s) the program is intended to change

2. Diagnose what is preventing the behavior, including social factors; epidemiological (relative prioritization of problems and behaviors), behavioral and environmental factors; and educational/ecological factors (what we need to know to accomplish our goals)

3. Look for theory-based ways to design the desired behavior change (behavior change techniques listed above)

4. Create the interventions (implement your plan)

5. Test outcomes and adjust (adjust, when necessary, because changing behaviors isn’t easy and you should not be ashamed to set more realistic goals in February or any of the months that follow, simply because your past self wanted to way back in December. Progress is progress).

 

 

People are fundamentally lazy when it comes to using unnecessary mental energy, and the decision to do so comes down to how easy it is in the moment and whether the person thinks they can do it without feeling bad, given the other things at their disposal.

 

 

A decision like that is based on a long history of memories and thoughts associated with the behavior, is influenced by a whole host of stimuli, and compared with everything else they could do, like stay home and watch TV (I have to know who gets kicked off The Bachelor). In that respect, attitude is everything. With regard to both physical activity and goals relating to quitting smoking, studies have shown that the amount of planning, our attitude toward achieving our goal, and our attitude when we make mistakes or if it appears we won’t achieve our goal, are frequently key wrenches in the gap between what we want to do, and what we feel we should do if we want to win at our goals.

 

 

Fullfilment Begins with a Single Step

To work with Tali on improving your life by leveraging the power of tiny positive habits, contact us today!