I know how transformative this kind of shift in thinking can be the idea seemed to resonate with readers, too.
But can you recite any of those liberating truths right now?
If you’re like me, you either can’t remember or it took quite a bit of mental effort to dig up those thoughts from so long ago.
How often in my life have I learned something so exciting and seemingly simple that I think I’ll never forget it, only to have it fade from consciousness in a matter of days?
New ideas won’t help us unless we take action, but when our to-do lists are already oppressive, that’s not welcome news.
Luckily there’s a very easy way we can all take action to remember our liberating truths and allow them to shape our lives for the better.
I learned the idea from B.J. Fogg and his Tiny Habits method. You can take a free on-line class from him, but the basic idea is simple (and therefore deceptively easy to forget . . .)
- Pick a trigger that you do automatically every day without much thought.
- Pick an action that is
easysuper easy and takes 30 seconds or less.
- Rehearse the trigger-action in your mind so you form a few pathway in your brain.
- After a week of trying your new tiny habit, review and see if it worked or if you need to revise one of the elements.
Step four is the hardest because you have to remember to check if your tiny habit is working. If the tiny habit is a good fit, you’ll have formed a new healthy habit in less than a week with very little effort.
If it’s not a habit yet then don’t blame yourself for not acting on it, but admit that you didn’t pick the best fit. Tweak one of the elements and try again.
It’s not true that any habit takes 20 or more days to form. It depends on the habit and the trigger.
I propose that reciting one liberating truth is a super easy action that definitely take less than 30 seconds.
Now the trick is to find a good trigger. Here are some examples.
- After I brush my teeth I will recite one liberating truth.
- After my feet hit the floor in the morning I will recite . . .
- After my alarm goes off I will . . .
- After I hear the footsteps of the first child awake in the morning I will . . .
- After I’ve left the room from putting the kids to bed . . .
- After I’ve poured my coffee . . .
- After I’ve flushed the toilet . . .
Toilet humor is funny because the subject is universal. So toilets will serve as a good example for tiny habit formation.
Flushing the toilet is something we do automatically even when we have very little time. Even when the kids are calling for Mommy (because the Mom on the pot is their trigger to need help, right?) you still take time to flush the toilet.
After flushing the toilet and either washing your hands in leisure (if you’re lucky) or rushing off to see the damage, there is enough mental space for you to remember your tiny habit and act on it at the same time as carrying on with your life.
Can it get any easier?
Still, there is one more way to help the tiny habit take a firm hold: celebrate your accomplishment.
This part is always hard for me since the action is so super simple I feel stupid celebrating, but it’s scientifically documented as important for getting the brain re-wired.
So after you accomplish your goal (even if it’s as simple as reciting a sentence) give a fist pump or do a little silly dance, or celebrate in an equally small, but encouraging way. (Keep it simple or your celebration will take more effort than your tiny habit!)
Note that toilet flushing has nothing to do with a good family life (well, unless you have a forgetful child . . .). You might think that reciting the liberating truth would be good to do when you are experience a negative emotion toward your family.
The trouble is that we don’t think clearly when we’re upset, and being upset is not a precise trigger – nor one we want to practice! In my experience, the more unrelated the trigger, the better it works.
Here’s your simple action plan for today:
- Find where you wrote down your liberating truths and pick one, or make up a new one now.
- Pick a trigger that you think might work for you. (Don’t obsess about it.)
- Rehearse your new tiny habit using this form “After I . . . I will . . .” saying it out loud to yourself at least 10 times.
- Don’t worry about remembering to check how it’s working – I’ll do that for you in the next post.
DO NOT put this on your to-do list. Either do it now – it will only take 5 minutes! Or decide guilt-free that it’s not for you.
I look forward to hearing how it went for you!