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Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
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Tiny Habits, in Key Areas, for Big Changes

One donut hole takes me about 10 seconds to devour.

Donuts are fried flour and sugar coated in more sugar. They are not good for me. I rationally know this.

Donuts are my kryptonite.

One donut hole may not be terrible, but a dozen is.

Ten seconds times twelve is 120 seconds. Two minutes. In 2 minutes, I can destroy all the healthy eating I have done that entire week.

Choosing to NOT eat the donut holes and choosing to have an apple instead is an example of a tiny habit.

Why Little Tweaks Can Change Your Life and How to Choose Strong Tiny Habits

Take a moment and think about what you could accomplish in a week, a month, or even a year.

If you created tiny habits today and kept building them up over time, what could you accomplish?

Trying to make massive changes all at once usually leads to burn out or failure but taking small baby steps with tiny habits toward a bigger goal is doable, sustainable, and puts us on the road to success.

Habits of all kinds – both good and bad – have compounding effects, which means the more you do something, the greater the results. The more you lace up those running shoes and run, the better your cardiovascular health.

What is a Tiny Habit?

Tiny habits are actions we take every day, often without thinking about them. Brushing your teeth twice a day is so ingrained that it is instinctive now. We were taught as kids, and that action was reinforced by parents and teachers. These tiny habits are also quick and easy, sometimes less than two minutes, so we do not even notice them taking up any time out of our day.

In the running example, you need more time than two minutes to go for a short run but adding an extra two minutes to your current running workout is negligible. Adding another two minutes the next week is still negligible.

A friend of mine used this technique to get back to a running habit. Go for a 20-minute walk. After 10 minutes, run for 30 seconds. Go back to walking. Keep increasing the running time by 30 seconds every day until he can run for 10 minutes straight.

How to Choose Your New Habits

Every single area of your life can be improved with the help of tiny habits. Decide where you want to focus or what specifically needs improving. Having a goal in mind will lead you in the right direction and these tiny habits will build the processes necessary to reach those goals.

Most habits revolve around three areas.

  1. Health. – Most people say they would like better health. Create a tiny habit to drink more water or to eat a daily salad. Plan ahead so you have both available. Within a few weeks, your body will be craving more water and preparing salads will become second nature. Want more sleep? Set the alarm for the time to go to bed, not just an alarm for when to get up. Head for bed when the night alarm goes off.
  1. Relationships. – One tiny habit is to spend 10 minutes reconnecting with your spouse or partner after a long day of work. We try to watch nightly sunsets. It sounds simple, but once you get into the habit of heading outside as the sun is going down it becomes a relaxing habit. This simple act is even more important if you have children running to various activities or if one of you travels a lot. Do you have a regularly scheduled date night? Get in the habit of hiring a babysitter and putting your adult relationship at the top of the priority list.
  1. Business. – Create business hours – especially if you work from home – or start using the Pomodoro technique to accomplish projects or meet deadlines. The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to block off 25-minute increments, where you focus on a task until the timer rings. Take a 5-minute break, and then reset the timer.

What habits do you have that make a significant difference?


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