The power of tiny habits and how to get started

Tiny habits are the small things we do to set ourselves up for success. We all know the power of setting up good habits. Essentially they make our life easier, keep our willpower in tack and help us to be healthier, happier versions of ourselves.

I’m pretty confident at some stage you’ve tried to set up a habit and failed miserably. Not because you weren’t committed, but because life just seemed to get in the way and other things somehow made it feel impossible to stick to the habit that once seemed so important. I get it, we’ve all been there, so let’s talk about why tiny habits work better.

A tiny habit is the smallest step you can take towards your new habit that’s going to help to set you up for success. For example if you’d like to develop a habit of walking in the morning, your new tiny habit might be to put your joggers at the front door before you go to bed. If you want to become more social, your tiny habit might be to text someone each morning while you have your morning coffee. If you want to eat better, your tiny habit might be to get one carrot out when you make your breakfast in the morning as a reminder to take a healthy snack to work.

These tiny steps sound simple, but let me share with you some of the science behind habit forming. B.J. Fogg suggests we need three things to develop a new habit. The first is a clear prompt, the second is a new behaviour that’s simple and easy to complete and lastly, we need to celebrate it.

A prompt for your tiny habit is something to remind you of your new habit, like a glittery star next to your tooth brush so that when you brush your teeth, which is a natural part of your day, it reminds you to notice the positives too. Another prompt could be writing your to do list each morning, it already happens and we can use it to anchor our tiny new behaviour to it, like setting one positive intention or drinking a full glass of water.

Next, we need to be really clear about the smallest step in forming our new habit. If you’d like to start exercising each morning, rather than buy a gym membership and expect to go from zero to hero in one giant leap, find the tiniest step possible. It could be making sure you’re up early enough each morning to fit in exercise. Or perhaps it’s getting to bed at a reasnoble time, or putting the dog’s lead in the bathroom so your reminded to take your best friend out.

Being back in a caravan, this was the first tiny habit that I played with. I love exercising, it makes me feel strong, helps me sleep soundly, keeps my back and neck working properly and … means I can eat chocolate every day. What’s not to love about exercise! But, it was really challenging finding the right time and space to work out. Every day travelling is different. Sometimes we’re in caravan parks with lots of people around, some days we’re by a beautiful river so I’d rather go for a paddle than do a work out. I was really struggling to find my groove.

Then, I clicked into the tiny habit of opening all our curtains before I went to bed. Sounds silly, but this tiny habit meant that I was up with the sun. Once I had that working, I added in a few exercises. Just shoulder rolls, but that felt good, and often I’d do some squats or stretches. It’s now week three of the tiny habit, and most mornings I’m doing a Les Mills workout, or going for a run and am back to getting a sweat up.

But three weeks ago, if you said wake up before 6 and do a boxing workout then go for a run, it would have seemed impossible. The process of building up slowly and allowing the natural momentum to build, meant that it’s easier and much more sustainable.


The last piece of the puzzle is to celebrate. It doesn’t matter how tiny your first step is, writing something positive down, cleaning your bench after breakfast, whatever the starting point is, make sure you acknowledge that you’ve just got closer to the goal. Pump your fist, say a big “YES” inside your head, whatever language you need to give yourself some credit, it’s vital that your brain get’s a little hit of dopamine to keep you coming back tomorrow for more. This is the bit that most people miss, really acknowledging that they are getting closer.

Tiny habits are powerful. They set you up for success and there are three easy steps to getting started.

  1. Find the prompt that will remind you to do your new behaviour.
  2. Make the new behaviour so tiny that not doing it seems silly.
  3. Celebrate by giving yourself some credit for sticking to it.

Good luck, and if you need any help or ideas feel free to drop me a line.

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