Book Review: Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg

Since I’ve started doing these book reviews for Forward Fitness my hands down number one book that I always recommend to people is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.  Even my friends that really want me to recommend a fiction book will also get a recommendation for “Atomic Habits”.  So, I was a little hesitant to read another habit book.  But I also needed a push to renew some habits that I haven’t been quite as consistent with as I would like, and I thought a fresh perspective might be good.  I must say I was not disappointed with Tiny Habits.

The author is a behavior scientist who founded the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University so his approach to building good habits or breaking bad habits is research driven and he teaches what he calls the “Fogg Behavior Model”. His research shows that “behavior happens when three things come together at the same moment: Motivation, Ability and a Prompt”. He illustrates it as B=MAP

He then breaks down the “ABCs” of habit building this way: 

AAnchor Moment: An existing routine or event.   The anchor moment reminds you to do your new tiny habit.  The Anchor Moment reminds you to do the new Tiny Behavior.

B: New Tiny Behavior: A simple version of the habit you want.  You do the Tiny Behavior immediately after the Anchor Moment.

C: Instant Celebration: Something you do to create positive emotions. You celebrate immediately after doing the new Tiny Behavior. 

Fogg spends time in the first chapter of the book illustrating how to determine what tiny habit you should begin with.  Once you have determined your habit, he recommends using what he calls a habit recipe card.  On an index card you use write: After I …. (Anchor Moment) I will… (Tiny Behavior) followed by your celebration.  

The overall premise of Tiny Habits is that to form a long-lasting habit you need to start small.  Your goal will be something larger, but you need to start with one very small thing that you can do every day that will help you achieve this larger goal. To help you make this tiny action become a habit you find something you are already doing to prompt you to do your new tiny habit, then to help you “wire this habit into your brain” you celebrate immediately after doing the action.  

I must admit I love the celebration idea and I have been trying to remember to do this. Your celebration can be whatever makes you feel happy.  He calls this feeling your “Shine”.   It can be something as small as saying “good job” in your head after you do your habit.  I tend to do a little fist pump and say “YES” with a big smile.  Try it.  We don’t celebrate ourselves enough and just giving yourself a little acknowledgement that you are doing something good for yourself really goes a long way.  

Another point that Fogg makes that really stuck with me is that we can’t depend on motivation alone to make better choices or changes in our lives. Motivation is just too unpredictable. Fogg also discusses how to know how to make your tiny habit into a bigger habit and how to adjust your habits if needed.  He also spends some time at the end of the book discussing how to stop bad habits. The book includes a lot of charts, and the appendix includes pages of ideas of tiny habits that you might want to try for various situations. 

I was discussing this book with Suzanne, and she described “Tiny Habits” as the more scientific version of “Atomic Habits” and I would have to agree.  If you asked me which one I preferred I would have a very hard time deciding.  Both books have the same premise which is to make a habit stick you need to start small. They both recommend using anchor moments and celebrations.  If you have read “Atomic Habits” and like me just need a refresher this would be a good alternative.  If you haven’t read either book and are looking for ways to start making some lasting healthy changes in your life, and you like charts then you might want to start with “Tiny Habits”.

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