How to Develop a New Habit … Quickly! 

 September 24, 2020

Would you believe me if I told you that you could develop a new habit within one week? What about just a few days? One day?

You’d probably respond with something like, “there’s no way that’s possible.” Or something of the like.

Let me tell you a story about how I developed a push-up habit LITERALLY in one day.

Recently, I’ve been reading BJ Fogg’s book called “Tiny Habits”. BJ Fogg is a Ph.D. researcher and professor at Stanford University. He is well-known for his work on human behavior and habit development.

He describes habit development in this short, simple equation

Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt

He says that, in order for a new habit to develop, all three of the items listed above must happen. If one of them is missing, often the habit will not form.

So, back to my story on pushups…

While reading “Tiny Habits” I decided I would put into action one of the habits that Fogg talks about. Pushups.

For a long time, I have struggled with developing a daily pushup habit. I’ve made excuses like “I can’t do pushups because it will mess up my shoulders” or, “my arms are too long for me to be able to do pushups well.” (Side note… I stand at roughly 6’1, yet my “wingspan” is just over 6’7 so, it is an excuse… but it may carry some validity.)

In the book, BJ Fogg teaches a simple way to develop a pushups habit. Instead of telling yourself, “I will start doing 100 pushups every day.” Simply begin tiny. Start with 2 pushups after a prompt that will remind you to do them.

My prompt, similar to the one in the book, is after I flush the toilet. Lol.

It seems silly, but it absolutely works! I’ve even gone so far as to rename the habit “flush-ups.” Here’s how it works:

  1. I use the bathroom.
  2. I flush the toilet.
  3. Instantly I get down into a push-up position (before I wash my hands because you know… the bathroom floor…)
  4. Complete 2 pushups.
  5. Celebrate!!!
  6. Stand up and wash my hands.

You’re probably saying, “2 pushups? You’ve got to be kidding me, that’s nothing!” 2 pushups is the goal. However, anything over 2 is considered extra credit. So, sometimes I only do 2 but other times, I will do as many as 30 pushups! Either way, by the end of the day, I’ve usually completed anywhere from 50 to 150 pushups (depending on how often I go to the bathroom).

Since the very first time that I completed this behavior, I have rarely ever missed it. The key is, IT’S SIMPLE!

So, try it! Whether it’s flush-ups or some other habit like learning to floss your teeth every day or cleaning up the kitchen after a meal. If you want to start a new behavior, start incredibly small and build up from there.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, make sure you celebrate when you complete the behavior. For me, after I finish my flush-ups, I stand up and pump my fist. Other examples of celebration could be:

  1. Jumping up and down.
  2. Laughing.
  3. Screaming, “I’m Awesome!”

However you celebrate, make sure you do it! This helps rewire the new behavior pattern into your brain so that it sticks.

I’d love to hear about the new habits you’ve developed after reading this blog. If you’d like to share, respond to this blog by emailing info [at] tigerneuro [dot] com so we can discuss your new habit!

Check out this very short video from BJ Fogg on his habit-building behavior model. Enjoy!