Confession: For years I was a terrible procrastinator.
A world class putter-offer, dawdler and ditherer at both getting started on new work, or indeed finishing off ongoing projects on time, on brief.
The irony was, I was pretty good at my job, both working in, and working with, others in creative environments big and small. Pretty good, but not pretty great, which is what I aspired to be.
Something had to be done.
I decided to do what I always do when something challenging comes up at work; I began to aimlessly watch YouTube videos.
I found yet another TED Talk (yes I know), but this time was different. Way different.
It was by a Stanford University Professor, BJ Fogg and was entitled: “Forget with big changes. Start with a Tiny Habit.”
And it changed my life forever.
All systems go
What turned things around for me in those 17 brief but transformational minutes was the realisation that I knew I wanted to change for the better, but I didn’t have a system, a framework, a simple playbook to help me effectively up my game. Something I desperately wanted to do.
This Tiny Habits thing was that system. I started getting results immediately.
What I’d been doing wrong
I’d always been interested in behaviour change. Interested but not very good at it. Jumping on every bandwagon, following every guru, buying every new book, making the annual, ultimately doomed-to-failure New Year’s resolutions. (It was only when I cracked the habits and behaviour change code that I discovered that 80% of New Year’s resolutions crash and burn by February. And that only 10% of people who buy self-help books stick with them beyond chapter 1.)
I’d always thought behaviour change and building positive new habits was about setting the bar high, amping up my motivation and willpower, showing “grit”, having a strong go-big-or-go-home, no-pain-no-gain mindset.
But no, it was exactly its counter-intuitive opposite.
How I got it right
After that fateful, and ironically in retrospect slacker moment, of watching that one YouTube video, I really got into the whole Tiny Habits Method, and loved it.
Later I learned that the Tiny Habits guy, BJ Fogg is actually a legend in the personal growth and professional development world. And as the world’s leading research scientist in behaviour change, the go-to guy for some of the most successful and innovative companies on the planet.
I discovered that as human beings, we change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad. And so I waved goodbye to being so critical of myself for failing to change. What a relief after a lifetime of giving myself a hard time.
I saw how the power of using baby steps to evolve into full-blown habits was a total game-changer. Finding them to be the shortest route to the quickest wins.
I realised that relying on motivation to push me forward didn’t work very well, because motivation and willpower aren’t very reliable allies. Great when they show up, but they go AWOL far, far too often.
And that, simplicity, making things really easy to do, is by far the best way to change our behaviour, as BJ’s research had shown.
I started thinking of myself in a new way, it was as if my whole identity flipped from “I can’t… to… I can and I do.”
When I first found out about this method, I knew I was onto something, but little did I know I was about to enter the most productive, happiest, creative and fulfilling period of life and my whole career.
I sincerely hope my story, and my journey, and my improvements help you navigate your behaviour change path with similar success.