I’ve been reading up on Behavioral Design (for Create Your Glorious Self). When crafting new behaviors, we want to automate their implementation. I’m a fan of BJ Fogg, Stanford researcher in behavioral design, and creator of the brilliant tinyhabits.com.
In the Tiny Habits model, there are three parts to new behaviors–the Anchor (something you already do that acts a springboard for the New Thing); the Behavior (the New Thing you want to start doing), and the Celebration! (in which you celebrate having done the New Thing).
How many of us celebrate our successes?
How many of us celebrate anything?
Hmmm… I thought so.
We trudge through our daily lists, grimly demolishing task after task (or having another bonbon, because who can even look all those tasks in the eye? Not to mention the world crises). We’re running on willpower, maybe taking time to cross one task off the list before trudging up to the next.
Do we even remember what we did at the end of the day? I don’t. I wonder where the time went, and why I haven’t accomplished a damn thing, AGAIN. I do a lot, most days; I just don’t stop to appreciate that I’ve done them.
Fogg says that Celebration element of habit creation is the most vital. That Celebration will someday be understtod to be as powerful for wellbeing as mindfulness or gratitude practices!
Um… WOW. That’s pretty huge.
The celebration releases a hit of dopamine, which is a factor in addiction–dopamine wants MORE. So that celebratory moment (12 seconds is the optimal time, I have been told), helps make the habit completion desirable to the body, because completion gives that sweet little rush. Hence, we are more likely to run the habit to get the treat.
Huh. What else would I like to do more of? Will a celebratory dopamine hit help me get that done, too?
Apparently, yes. And those things can also be turned into habits. Here’s the Tiny Habits algorithm:
After I <anchor>, I <new behavior>. Then, I celebrate!
Tiny Habits is based on the principle that the new habit needs to be stupid easy, so doing it takes minimal effort. Thirty seconds, max.
So the new habit is NOT, for example, After I eat breakfast, I practice for an hour and a half. That’s a high bar. The habit might be, After I eat breakfast, I turn on dance music. That’s pretty easy. Push a button on your phone. Boom.
And for things you’d rather not do, habits you’d like to overdraw with better habits, the more difficult and annoying you can make it to do them, the easier it is to let them go.
So my plan for the coming weeks is to celebrate. A LOT.
After I complete each phase of my day, each task on my list, I celebrate!
It will take practice. I will forget a lot of the time. But I will remember some of the time, too. And over time, I will remember more often. I know how this works. That’s how habits are built. One iteration at a time. So I can be kind to myself as I develop my new skill.
I invite you to join me in this.
And make it REAL!
No half hearted eye roll and a sardonic woo-hoo.
Give 10-15 whole seconds to this.
Chair dance! Or celebrate in the mirror. Make up a little song about it!
I did it!
I did it!
I folded up the handkerchiefs!
I did it!
I did it!
I did it, did it, WOO!!!!
Let’s let that feeling of BOOYAH!!! suffuse us, such that when we move on to the next thing, we still have a smile on our face and a song in our heart.
Let’s see what happens. We’ll check in next week.
Or post below and tell me how it’s going.
PS BOLD started Tuesday. Here’s what folks said after the first class:
Bold felt good and solid!!CH
Boldness on the inside made me feel stronger for doing more gentle moves on the outside too.SM
Being present to the music and playing with attitudes brought out a lot spontaneous nuances and qualities in my dance that would be hard to do deliberately. I wasn’t trying to “dance”, the dance just happened as a by-product.CL
BOLD registration is open through Tuesday, June 21. It is thrilling! The recording of the first class is up now. I would love for you to join us. Learn more and register here: BOLD