A few months ago I picked up a book called Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. Like most books I buy, they sit on my bookshelf because I rarely make time to sit down and read without distractions. Thankfully, staying at home 24/7 has given me some space to read and this was the first book I opened. All I can say is, READ IT! Whether you want to lose weight, be better about skin care, or write more, this book by Dr. BJ Fogg breaks down change into extremely tangible and realistic behaviors that make that change a reality.
Throughout the book, Dr. Fogg has exercises to go through as you learn about the elements of creating tiny habits for change. One exercise in particular has been so good for my mind and breaking down my goals. The exercise, which is called “Tiny Exercises to Practice Behavior Design”, helps you to dump onto paper the behaviors you know will lead towards your goal, and through a series of steps, leave with “Golden Behaviors” (Fogg 68).
Step 1: Draw a cloud on a piece of paper
Step 2: Write your aspiration inside the cloud. For me, it was “Lose 20 pounds”.
Step 3: Write out behaviors that lead you to your aspiration. Fogg calls this your “Swarm of Behaviors”.
Step 4: Put a star by the behaviors that you believe would be highly effective in reaching your aspiration.
Step 5: Circle any effective behavior that you can easily get yourself to do. It’s really important here to be realistic!!
Step 6: Find the behaviors that have both a star and a circle – these are your “Golden Behaviors”
Step 7: Now you create a plan for how to make the Golden Behaviors a reality in your life.
Through this exercise, I came out with 5 Golden Behaviors to lose 20 pounds.
1. Eat smaller portions
2. Have specific days/times to eat treats
3. Workout once a day
4. Eat more fruits and veggies
5. Don’t eat after dinner
As a chronic dieter, it was really helpful going through this exercise. You’ll note on my “Swarm of Behaviors” that I wrote down things like log all meals, have a smaller list of foods to eat, and reduce sugar intake. Would these behaviors lead to weight loss? Sure, but for me, they aren’t effective or necessarily easy to implement/maintain. You’ll see that reducing sugar does have a star next to it, because I knew it was an effective behavior but ultimately knew it wouldn’t be easy for me right now. For me, what is both effective and easy is to have specific days for sweets/treats.
Sometimes I get so consumed with all the ways to lose weight. This Swarm is just a small glimpse into the ideas, behaviors, and knowledge I have around weight loss tips and tricks in my brain. It was really helpful, and healing in some ways, to sit down and write out what would be effective and easy to reach my goal of losing 20 pounds. One thing I’ll note is that my goals and aspirations are to lose a lot more than 20 pounds, but the book really helped me to break down those goals into smaller chunks. Losing 100 pounds, for example, is pretty daunting. Losing 20 pounds, for me, is really motivating, helps me to get the ball rolling, and is closer in reach. Throughout this process, I’ll come back to this exercise. Maybe it’ll be after I lose 20 pounds or maybe it’ll be for a completely different aspiration.
This week I will break down how I am implementing my 5 Golden Behaviors. I hope you’ll try out this exercise. It’s great for any and all aspirations!
Fogg, B. J. Tiny Habits: the Small Changes That Change Everything. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.