In his book Tiny Habits, Dr. BJ Fogg explains how every habit lies on the other side of the “action line.”
If a habit is too difficult to do, or if our desire to do it is too low, it won’t stick.
These are important factors to consider while you design good habits.
This is why we need to start small.
Starting small is essential when building any good habit. When starting something new, aim to make it as simple as possible.
Fogg gives an example in his book of wanting to build a daily flossing habit. He hated flossing, so he decided to commit to flossing only one tooth. That’s it!
This helped him build a new unconscious habit of pulling out floss from the container and putting his hands in his mouth.
The thought of flossing every tooth on a busy day was too difficult—it was on the other side of the action line. By flossing only one tooth, he moved the habit over the action line, making it achievable for him.
Soon enough his unconscious behavior took over and he was flossing all his teeth every day.
But what if you can’t start small?
Sometimes the goals we want to turn into habits can’t realistically be divvied up into tiny pieces.
I’ve found success by committing to difficult habits in short sprints instead.
Committing to a difficult task indefinitely quickly becomes overwhelming.
When you can’t see the benefits yet, and there’s no end in sight, the logical decision is to quit.
But committing to that difficult task for a short window of time (like a week or ten days) suddenly makes it achievable. We’re able to get through the dips and carry on because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Then at the end of the short window, we can more easily look back to see the benefits.
Are you an overachiever?
Continue to next part: HABITS (Part 4)