Don't go big, go TINY, to achieve your goals.
The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. James Clear Atomic Habits
If you joined me for the recent Goals with Soul session you'll know that I teach that goals are the habits that you want to create, you'll also know that one of my goals for this year is to drink more water. Specifically, my ismart goal is: By June 30th I will be regularly be drinking 2+ litres of what a day so that I feel healthier. This is not a "big picture goal" for me but it is one habit that I know will make me feel clearer and healthier and just generally be really good for me. The problem is, I do not come from a family of water lovers, in my family water is for under boats and around bridges.
So, I have drawn on the work of James Clear from his book Atomic Habits and BJ Fogg in his book Tiny Habits and I've decided to build my water drinking goal in a small but sustainable way. First of all, I realised that as a non-water lover the thought of drinking two litres of water a day felt overwhelming and frankly demotivating. What I decided to do was to start as small as I could and anchor the new behaviour to a habit I already had.
My old habit: get out of bed, have a wee and then I put the kettle on to make coffee.
My new habit is; get out of bed, have a wee and commit to drinking two mouthfuls of water while I'm waiting for the kettle to boil.
You'll notice that my commitment is that I will drink two mouthfuls (yes ONLY TWO) , the reality is I very often drink a whole glass. This is phenomenon is what psychologists call momentum. We all know that getting started is the hardest part and once we've started we can often keep going.
Now that I've mastered the glass of water before coffee habit. I have started attaching my water drinking to other habits. Before I eat I make sure I've already had a glass of water. Not only does this make me feel full - eating becomes the reward. It's basic; Cue > Routine > Reward
Cue: Time to eat
New Habit: Drink water
Reward: Eat something delicious
Consequently, after just over two weeks of this process, I am now drinking 1.5 litres of water most days and it all started with a commitment to take 2 sips!
I am a great believer in the solution-focused idea of: find out what works and do more of it. Heres what works - I discovered I don't like cold water I like room temperature water, I also discovered I don't like to drink water out of a drink bottle or flask instead I like to drink out of a glass so I always have a glass on the sink right next to the container of room temperature filtered water. I also like to drink out of nice china so I now have my water in my prettiest coffee cup beside me when I am working. Both of these things take away any resistance which makes my water drinking habit super achievable.
The other thing that I'm doing is I'm tracking my water in a habit tracker. I did start to do a colouring-in habit tracker but I'm not a great colour-in-erra instead I now recorded it on a digital app. I also have some accountability buddies who will check in with me and give me a gentle nudge if needed. The research is pretty clear - most of us achieve our goals/habits faster if we have shared the goal publically (even if that means just sticking it on the fridge for others to see) and are accountable to another person. So - Go Early, Go Public
Your goal and its habits don't have to be about drinking more water, it can be any part of your life you wish to change
Simple habit-forming steps
- make your first step as small as humanly possible
- allow momentum to build
- attach your habits to a routine that already exists
- write it down
- get an accountability buddy
- track your new habits
So what TINY habit could you develop this year?
- Say no once a week to an obligation that doesn't serve you.
- Close your doors to interruptions for o30 mins a week
- Read a chapter of a book a week
- Schedule a 10-minute conversation with a staff member.
- Give one piece of hard feedback
- Try one new strategy at work.
- Not check your emails on a Wednesday night
Of course, you will do more but you need to take that first tiny step.
And then you take that step again tomorrow.
And then do it again the day after until eventually it becomes a habit.
Let me know what you choose (remember GO PUBLIC!)
If you need help, just jump on a discovery call
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