Creating big positive change in your life and career can feel daunting, even overwhelming. It’s what keeps many people stuck in career and life situations that no longer fit. There is a fun way out of overwhelm, it begins with a tiny habit.
My client (let’s call her Deb) came to her coaching session feeling frustrated. She had fallen short of following through with her morning yoga practice again. It wasn’t the first time that she brought this topic to a coaching session. Deb had already tried to go to bed earlier. She was in the habit of putting out her yoga matt in the evening to make it easier to get on the matt for her yoga practice in the morning. However, more often than not, she didn’t follow through. I asked Deb how long she usually practiced when she made it onto the matt. Deb shared that she likes to practice for 20 minutes and that her bare minimum yoga practice is at least 10 minutes. The big positive change Deb wants to create in her life is wellness and a sense of ease.
Make Your Habit Tiny
I had been reading Tiny Habits, a book written by BJ Fogg. While listening to Deb, the question “How can you make it tinier?” flashed through my mind. When I asked Deb that question and told her about the book, she chuckled. Deb had also read that book and loved it. In case you haven’t read BJ Fogg’s book yet, it offers the simplest proven way to transform your life one tiny habit at a time.
“What’s your favourite yoga posture, Deb?” I asked. “Well, currently it is Child Pose,” she responded. “Will you commit to doing a Child Pose every single morning right after you roll out of bed, Deb?” Excitedly, she exclaimed “YES, I will do that!”
Celebrate Your Success IMMEDIATELY
“How are you going to celebrate your success, Deb?” I inquired. Deb remembered one of the phrases from Fogg’s book, that was just perfect for celebrating her achievement. She committed to exclaiming ‘This is going to be a great day!’ each morning after her first Child Pose.
“Deb, how committed on a scale from 0-10 (where 0 is not at all and 10 is completely) are you to follow through with your new tiny habit of daily Child Pose?” I asked. Deb’s big smile radiated through the phone line as she said: “It’s a 10!”
Of course, we designed that Deb could continue her yoga practice after Child Pose, if she had time and energy. However, one Child Pose was all it took to call her daily yoga practice a success!
After this very energizing coaching conversation, I wondered, how I could make writing into a tiny habit in my own life. I am committed to writing a monthly blog post and have followed through on this commitment for over 15 years. It’s a well-established habit and I love creating and sharing valuable content through my blog.
However, every once in a while, I find myself scrambling for time to write. Then the pressure builds towards my self-imposed deadline. This takes away from my joy for writing and turns it into a stressful experience. As I prepared dinner after Deb’s coaching session, I asked myself: “How can I turn writing into a tiny habit?”
First, I had to let go of my old limiting beliefs about writing, such as “I need at least one hour of uninterrupted writing time.” If Deb can have a yoga practice that consists of one Child Pose, I can establish a tiny writing habit, I reassured myself.
Shortly thereafter, an idea sparked in my mind. I will write for 15 minutes right after eating my breakfast and/or lunch. My dental hygienist had recently told me that I needed to wait at least 15 minutes after a meal, before I brushed my teeth, because that was actually better for my teeth. So, that 15-minute window was readily available to become my dedicated daily writing time.
I felt so excited that I implemented this insight right after dinner with my first 15- minute writing session. It felt so good and so easy. To my great surprise, I actually felt really accomplished and was floored by how much I had written in 15 minutes.
Since then, have been writing after at least one meal each day. In fact, you are reading the first article written entirely in these tiny writing spurts. Now, I am hooked on my tiny habit of writing and so relieved to have finally eliminated writing stress from my life!
What’s the Big Change YOU Want?
Just like Deb and I, you too can start a tiny habit to create big change you long for in your career and your life.
First, take a moment to clearly define and name the big change you want to create in your life, such as “reduce stress”, “increase self-care”, “boost confidence”, or “learn a specific skill”. Take a moment now to write down the big change you want to create in a middle of a blank sheet of paper and circle it.
Then, brainstorm all kinds of small, specific behaviours that could help achieve that change. Write all your ideas around the circle of your big change. Out of all these behaviours, choose the one you want to make into a tiny habit. Now you are ready to implement your first tiny habit!
Create Your Tiny Habit NOW!
All it takes to create your tiny habit, are these three simple steps:
Choose your “anchor moment”, an existing routine in your life that reminds you to do the tiny behaviour (your new habit).
Choose your tiny behaviour, a new habit you want to create. Make it super tiny and super easy to do.
Choose a way to celebrate your tiny habit. It’s again something tiny you do to create a positive feeling inside, such as smile.
Write your first tiny habit recipe on a blank sheet of paper:
After I … (insert existing routine) I will… (insert tiny habit).
To wire this habit into my brain I will immediately … (insert celebration).
Deb’s tiny habit recipe reads: “After I roll out of bed, I will do one Child Pose. To wire this habit into my brain, I will exclaim ‘This is going to be a great day!’ immediately.”
My tiny habit recipe reads: “After I finish my meal, I write for 15 minutes. To wire this habit into my brain, I will immediately brush my teeth and smile.”
Since I was in the habit of brushing my teeth right after each meal, brushing my teeth after my writing spurt feels like a true reward for me.
Over to YOU! Spell out your newly created tiny habit recipe! Most importantly, follow through and do your tiny habit daily. Each day you’ll get that much closer to realizing the big change you long for in your career and life! Don’t just stop here, reach out for extra support and request your free career clarity consult now!
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.