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Happiness Tip: Establish a Tiny Habit

Do you have resolutions you’d like to make this week?

Maybe you’d like to read or workout more, or remember to call your mom on Mondays. My best advice is to start by picking just one ridiculously easy habit to work on. Start with what Stanford habit researcher BJ Fogg calls a “tiny habit.” The reason that I want you to think small is that deliberate habit formation is a skill. Starting with a tiny habit is like learning to dog paddle before you learn the breast stroke.

Here are some of Fogg’s suggestions for tiny habits:

“After I pour my morning coffee, I will text my mom.”

“After I start the dishwasher, I will read one sentence from a book.”

“After I walk in my front door from work, I will get out my workout clothes.”

I know, I know: tiny habits seem so tiny. By necessity, they need to be ridiculously easy, and this makes them feel trivial and unimportant. But tiny habits are about skill building, and about inching your way towards the bigger resolutions you made in the year.

Take Action: Pick something small, like taking a daily vitamin, or flossing just one tooth (that’s BJ Fogg’s suggested starter habit) — anything that takes less than 30 seconds, requires little physical effort, little money, and doesn’t require that you go against a social norm (like flossing in the public bathroom). It should take little time, but not require that you time yourself (e.g., floss my teeth for 30 seconds), because timing yourself is a hassle. This tiny habit needs to be something that you do at least once a day — no exceptions.

Join the Discussion: What’s your tiny habit going to be? List it here and I will help you format it correctly.