In contrast, if I say, “Oh, walk outside and walk back in,” maybe 30 seconds, simple to do, you’re above the line. Still you may not be very motivated, but because it’s so easy to do.
Let’s move up here. It’s hard to do. I’m asking you to do something very hard. In order to do something that’s difficult, you need high levels of motivation. In fact, I think that’s the purpose, that’s the only use of motivation in our lives, is to allow us to do hard things.
If we’re not doing hard things, we don’t need that much motivation. When our motivation lags, boom, can’t do it. Motivation is very slippery. If you set yourself up to do something hard, and you have to somehow sustain the motivation, the motivation is going to drop down. There’s going to be a point where you don’t do it. And habits are about repeating it, and you won’t create the habit.
So as I looked at this –as I looked at my behavior model, I thought, “Let’s go right here. Easy to do.” Stuff that’s so easy to do it doesn’t require much motivation at all. So whether your motivation is high, you’ll still do it. Whether it’s low, you’ll still do it. and so this is where the insight around, “Let’s make it really tiny. Really tiny like one, two push ups, one sip of water, and so on.”
Well,when you look at it in this way the smiley face we’re accounting for motivation, we’re accounting for ability. In the equation B = MAT, those things are done. What wasn’t done, and what I hadn’t solved was the trigger.
How do we trigger that behavior? Easily. One day, I came home from the gym. I went into the bathroom. I got into the shower. I turned on the shower. I got out. I dried off. I went into my bedroom. I opened the sock drawer. At that moment, it hit me. After!
The secret was after. If you use an existing behavior in your life, and you put the new tiny behavior after it, you can use the existing behavior to be the trigger.
So I was looking for what is the T what is the trigger? The triggers are your existing behaviors. I was pretty happy about this. I thought this was a breakthrough. It means you don’t have to put up post it notes. You don’t have to set alarms, and so on. You just establish what it will come after.
So I went off, mapped this out, and started practicing tiny habits more and more on my own, applied them to many things. And then about a year ago after I had done this a while I thought, “You know, I’m going to invite some friends to do it,” and it kind of grew from there. So today, I’ve actually coached over 20,000 tiny habits, and this is a snapshot from the spreadsheet.
Here’s the format for tiny habits. It looks like this. After I — whatever your existing behavior is, I call that an anchor I will floss one tooth, do two push ups, and so on. What kinds of tiny habits do people create? This is from this upcoming week. I grabbed this out of the database. A lot of habits are geared toward the morning. After I start my morning coffee, I will tidy one item in the living room.
Other habits are toward the evening where you have routines already set up. After I enter the house at the end of the day, I will kiss my wife for ten seconds. These kind of tiny habits work out really well.
As you think about changing your life, think about framing it in terms of this format. After I pick an existing habit that you do every day with the same frequency that you want the new behavior to happen I will, and you’ve got to make it super tiny. After I pee, I will do two push ups. After I walk in the door, I will hang my keys on the hook. After I brush my teeth, I will floss one tooth. That makes sense, right? That brushing becomes the trigger or the anchor for flossing one tooth, and then you celebrate it.
Now we’re on to the practice time. You ready for this? Everyone get out your floss. Okay, in your minds visualize you’re brushing your teeth. Oh, I think we need to practice celebration. We’re going to go, “Awesome,” right? Ready? One, two, three…
All right. We brush our teeth. Floss one tooth. One, two, three, awesome!
If you keep at that, over time, it will get easier and easier to floss your teeth, and you can floss more and more.
There are different ways to celebrate. Find the celebration that works for you. Here’s the phrase, and it comes down to this. I live up in the wine country. I do a lot with the earth as much as I can, and this seems to map exactly what I’m talking about. Plant a tiny seed in the right spot, and it will grow without coaxing. The tiny seed.
This pumpkin came from a tiny seed that, actually, we didn’t even plant. It came from the chicken manure that we put in the garden, and it grew. We didn’t have to do anything to it. It just grew. Tiny seed in the right spot.
So I encourage you to look at your lives, look at what you want to change, break it down to tiny behaviors and put them in the right spot. The right spot is after something you’re already doing, and allow it to grow. You don’t have to amp up motivation. You don’t have to draw that much on willpower. All you have to do is plan it out and let this natural process emerge.