Tiny Habits make for Mighty Results

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Sometimes the poker game of life deals you a really crap hand.

A hand where no amount of positivity is going to change it into a winner.

It’s a royal ‘flush it down the toilet’ level bad hand.

It may be a bad hand that can be handled easily or it may be a hand that changes your life forever.

It sounds strange but did you know that the key to getting dealt a new, better hand is pretty much the same in all situations?

It’s about taking tiny action.

I discovered the benefits of tiny action a few months ago when, in one of the worst poker hands ever dealt, we lost a dear, sweet, special friend and it hit us HARD.

I’m not sharing this for sympathy, I’m sharing this because the only thing that helped us get through was taking action. But not the type of action where you keep yourself busy to distract from reality or the emotion.

That type of action won’t serve to do anything that is sustainable or healthy in the long term.

The type of action that helped us was tiny action.

You may recall me raving about a book called Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg.

In his book, BJ Fogg who is a behaviour scientist, talks about how by breaking any task into really, really tiny parts you can achieve anything.

“As a behaviour scientist, I know this is a fact: difficult behaviours require a high level of motivation. You've seen this in your own life. If there's a tough task facing you, such as cleaning your entire home, you won't do it unless your motivation level is high.”

You know that your level of motivation goes up and down. It ebbs and flows with your moods and it’s natural for this to happen.

Your motivation depends on all sorts of factors; the task, your emotional state on that day or even in that moment.

I know that when it’s raining I feel very unmotivated to go for a run and I get energised and motivated on a day when I feel great.

When you rely solely on your own motivation to create a habit or to achieve a goal your results will be pretty hit and miss.

What you need is to create momentum.

And what gives you momentum? Small wins and tiny movements forward.

Tiny successes. Tiny reasons to celebrate.

When an action is tiny, you don’t need to rely on your motivation. The action is easily done.

We found through that tough, tough time that focusing on doing tiny actions helped to move us forward. Despite not feeling like doing anything at all, we both were able to study, work, clean, cook and do most of the things we needed to get done.

When I say tiny, how tiny do I mean?

Have a look at these tiny examples:

  • Pour a cup of water

  • Put on my workout clothes

  • Open my to-do list

  • Write the name of someone I want to call

  • Get out my yoga mat

  • Put an apple in my backpack

  • Turn off the TV (starts the process of going to bed)

  • Get out my vitamins

  • Floss one tooth

  • Do two push-ups

  • Meditate for three breaths

  • Read one sentence in a book

  • Wash one item in the kitchen

  • Drink a sip of water

  • Tidy one item on my work desk

  • Think of one thing I'm grateful for

I hear you saying, “but flossing one tooth is just stupid, surely you’d floss them all?”.

Well, that may be easy for you, but what if it's a new habit for you?

What about if you wanted to start a mediation habit?

Being still for 5 minutes is hard so maybe aiming for 3 breaths is the tiny goal to shoot for!

For us, the first tiny step was to get out of bed every day when the alarm went off at 7am.

A tiny habit to gave us the momentum to take the next tiny step forward.

What’s a task you hate doing or have been putting off?

What’s something you want to do for your health but don’t?

What’s something you’re scared to do?

A good tiny habit is one that:

· Takes less than 30 seconds

· Requires no real effort

· Doesn’t create pain or bad emotions

· Is a habit you want to have in your life.

Tiny habits work to create tiny successes.

And who doesn’t love a reason to celebrate?


Emma Taberner is a qualified Leadership and Executive Coach, Speaker, Facilitator, author and self-confessed Human Behaviour nerd. With over 20 years Supply Chain industry experience and 10 years coaching and mentoring frontline leaders, she is passionate about helping people to understand how their behaviours determine their effectiveness and success in business, relationships and in life. Emma works One to One, with groups, both face 2 face and online. She focuses on small business owners and their teams to create engaged leaders and sustainable business growth.

When she’s not building future leaders you can find her flying small planes, being in the outdoors, growing her own food and hanging out with her husband of over 20 years.


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