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Creating Micro Habits to Achieve Big Goals

When adding new habits to your day, you may be more successful if you break down your big goal into micro habits, attach them to a current habit or activity, and then increase your micro habit over time.

This strategy was developed by BJ Fogg, Ph.D., author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything a Behavior Scientist at Stanford University.

Here are the steps he recommends:

  1. Identify the habit you want to develop.
  2. Create a starter step that will remind you to do the activity.
  3. Shrink the behavior into a habit that is manageable to do every day.
  4. Attach it to a current habit.
  5. Increase time, distance or amount, for example, until you’re meeting the bigger habit.

Here are examples of how to break a habit into smaller bits: 

Habit to develop: Read 50 pages daily.

Starter step: Place book next to a favorite chair.

Scale back the habit: Read two pages a day.

Current habit: I will read two pages before I watch the evening news.

Habit to develop: Drink 48 ounces of water daily.

Starter step: Fill a glass with water and place next to the bed.

Scale back the habit: Drink a sip of water.

Current habit: I will take a sip of water when I make my bed in the morning.

Habit to develop: Meditate for 10 minutes daily.

Starter step: Take out a meditation pillow.

Scale back the habit: Meditate for three minutes.

Current habit: I will meditate for three minutes after I wash my face at night.

Habit to develop: Wash dishes after every meal.

Starter step: Open the dishwasher.

Scale back the habit: Clear the table after every meal.

Current habit: I will put my dishes in the washer after I eat.

Habit to develop: Take vitamins daily.

Starter step: Put vitamins in a small bowl.

Scale back the habit: Take one vitamin.

Current habit: I will take a vitamin after I brush my teeth in the morning.

Habit to develop: Run 3 miles four times a week.

Starter step: Place shoes by the door.

Scale back the habit: Walk for five minutes.

Current habit: I will walk for five minutes when I get the mail.

Write your own habits in this table and use the examples above to identify and write your starter step and tiny habit.

Learn more about creating micro habits to achieve big goals in this Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll find past sessions and resources.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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