CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Quick: What does flossing one tooth have in common with doing one pushup or putting on a pair of running shoes? They're all successful barometers of establishing new habits.
We've all been there. We set ambitious goals. We're gung-ho on Day One. And maybe even Day Two. Then reality sets in, and old patterns rear their ugly heads.
Well, maybe we're just not thinking small enough. According to Dr. B.J. Fogg, a behavioral researcher at Stanford University, we need to think tiny. Fogg is the creator of "3 Tiny Habits" and says the path to lasting change is to take baby steps and build on those. And we're talking really tiny steps.
Here's an example. Instead of vowing to go running every morning for five days, just lace up your running shoes. That's it. You've met your goal. Now, I could really wrap my arms (and legs) around a program like this!
That's exactly what writer Leigh Newman did when she participated in Fogg's program. The key is building on small successes and integrating them into our lives. Then we can take the next step and the next step -- and we're "wiring" ourselves for success all along the way.
"Habiteers" are followers of Fogg's program, about 3,000 strong, and here's how some of their success stories started out:
The key is that these tiny steps are successes from the get-go. So, we're constantly reinforcing the successful behavior in our brain.
When developing the Tiny Habits idea, Fogg had a classic Eureka! moment, according to author Newman's article "The No-Gimmick, Fastest Way to Make Real Change," posted on Oprah.com.
"I was opening my sock drawer," Fogg relates, "and I got some socks out, and the word 'after' just struck me." He realized he knew what he always would do after he took out his socks -- close the drawer. He'd been trained over a lifetime to close that drawer. There would never be a time he wouldn't close it. What if he attached a new tiny habit to this chain of events in his brain?