You would love to (express more gratitude, exercise more, eat a strict Paleo diet and dress like Wilma Flinstone, laugh more, do what you love, live a more balanced life, taste every tequila on the market….)

 BUT…

  • You don’t have time.
  • You don’t know the right people.
  • You don’t know where to start.
  • You don’t have enough money.
  • You start but get overwhelmed and quit.
  • You need to lose weight first.

Get rid of your big but today, no exercise or diet required.

What’s the magic pill, you ask?

Take one small step toward creating a tiny habit today and watch as your big BUT begins to disappear.  Really, any habit will do because this is about creating movement because you can’t get rid of a big but without a little movement.

For instance, even though your end game might be running a 10K this Spring trying to start there can (and often does) lead to overwhelm and drop out, not to mention shin splints and pulled muscles.  So instead you start by creating a much smaller habit that is the first step towards your bigger goal.

According to BJ Fogg, an expert in behavior design from Stanford University, you can create a habit by using a simple 3-step process:

  1. Be specific about the behavior you are trying to create
  2. Make it easy
  3. Use a current habit to anchor the new habit.

As you start the 3-step process, Dr. Fogg also suggests that you keep your first steps simple and celebrate your success.

How does this apply to your big but?

First, be specific.  For instance, “I want to exercise more” isn’t specific enough.  However, “I want to run a 10K in May” works since it gives you a specific and obtainable goal.

Second, make it simple.

This one is fun because simple means finding the simplest thing you can do immediately to start creating your habit and I’m talking tiny steps here people.  In other words, if you want to start running after work every day your first tiny habit might be to get ready for a run everyday after work.  Notice, I didn’t say go on a run every day after work, I said get ready for a run everyday.  Specifically, you want to start running after work but to begin, you take tiny (and I mean tiny) steps, that feel easy to do, toward your bigger goal.

This is important so let’s really look at it.  For some, getting ready for a run might be too aggressive for their first tiny step so they might start by spending the week gathering the clothes they want to run in and finding a specific place to keep them.  Then, the following week when they move on to getting ready for a run they’ll know exactly where to find their running pants and avoid looking for them which can lead to plopping down on the couch with the bag of chips that they found instead of their running pants.

So, if running 5 miles sounds really hard right now you need a goal that sounds easy like putting on running clothes and shoes that are easy to find.  If it doesn’t, back up a step.  Perhaps for you, looking though a 1998 copy of Runner’s World is the most you can muster this week.  If that is it, do it.  Just commit to doing it everyday when you come home from work for 5 minutes.

Finally, tie it to a trigger.  If you walk in the door and look at the mail everyday, your trigger could be that after you look at the mail you sit down on the couch and look through your old copy of Runners World for 5 minutes.  Or it could be that as you change out of your work clothes you put on your running clothes.

This first week, it might feel a little silly to get into your running clothes every night and not run.  If it does, head out the door and run to the end of the block and if that still feels good, keep going.  However, you don’t need to run yet because the idea is to set up the first part of the habit, which is getting into the mindset that you run after work (or write a gratitude note each day or find 30 minutes to practice the piano, or, or, or.…).

If you’re interested in learning more about taking tiny steps to create big results get in touch and together we can get rid of your big BUT.

Categories: BlogMusings