Spring strategy: Grow new habits from tiny seeds

By Karla Webb

The beginning of spring is filled with promise — and reminders of the New Year goals left behind. My resolve toward my resolutions is lagging this time of year. Anybody with me?

Here’s what my bookshelves of inspirational, business and behavioral economics tomes tell me: Rather than trying to stir up motivation — which is fleeting — focus on small steps toward the improvements you want to make. Forming a new habit is a powerful way to change your life.

With a habit, behavior becomes automatic and no longer relies on your willpower or a decision to be put into action. Your habits reap great rewards over time and feel effortless once they become second nature. It works in every area of your life —  job, home, health, fitness, relationships, laundry and shopping.

While using my procrastination machine (iPad) to avoid all the chores on my to-do list last weekend, I ran across a cool approach to forming new habits. It’s from B.J. Fogg, PhD, who is the director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University. (Nice work if you can get it.)

Dr. Fogg’s program, Tiny Habits, breaks down forming new habits into small, specific, fun steps.

His program’s purpose is to develop the skills to create new habits that change your behavior, and show you how to grow those skills by practicing his method. You select a tiny step that takes less than 30 seconds and do it right after a habit you already have, like brushing your teeth or sitting down at your desk. Every time you do that little behavior, you celebrate.

I won’t spoil your fun in case you want to try his (free!) program. I’m only on my third day, so I’m no expert. Still, I am surprised by how good that little celebration feels after completing my 30-second action. Don’t skip claiming victory every chance you get!