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Book review

Tiny habits: why starting small makes lasting change easy
Blog 158 Tiny habits book

If you’re looking for practical ways to change how you’re living and working, then the New York Times bestselling book Tiny habits is worth a read.

Author BJ Fogg has long been known as the father of habits research. He first started studying the impact of ‘persuasive technology’ back in 1992, before shifting to human behaviour. At Stanford University and in Silicon Valley he’s famous not only for his pioneering research into behaviour change, but as the Founder and Director of the Behavior Design Lab. He also teaches boot camps for industry innovators and leads the Tiny Habits Academy.

You may have heard about Fogg’s formula for human behaviour, the Fogg Behavior Model, otherwise known as B=MAP. In a simplified explanation, this stands for ‘Behaviour (B) happens when Motivation (M), Ability (A) and a Prompt (P) come together at the same moment’. B=MAP has been the launchpad for Fogg’s other models about behaviour, as well as effective methods for design, which he collectively refers to as ‘behaviour design’.

In Tiny habits, Fogg explains how to use a science-based approach to human behaviour to make simple changes that last. Whether you want to lose weight, sleep more or restore work-life balance, the author argues that the secret lies, not in having buckets of willpower, but rather in starting out small – achieving ‘quick wins’ that allow you to embed new, tiny habits into your everyday routine. His advice? Focus on what’s easy to change, not what’s hard. Focus on what you want to do, not what you should do. And by following this path, he’s found that it’s easy to create a happier, healthier life.

Each chapter in Tiny habits outline insights from Fogg’s research and provides simple steps you can take to improve your life – with tips to help make new habits stick. For example, if you want to read more, you find a particular moment in your daily routine when you can read one paragraph. Alternatively, if you want to add exercise into your regime, you commit to doing two push-ups every time you make yourself a coffee. These small beginnings expand gradually into larger, more effective changes, leading to transformation. A key part of Fogg’s formula is celebrating your wins, which helps wire new behaviours into our lives, but also makes us feel good (and teaches us to be kind to ourselves) in the process.

Starting small is something we often talk about with clients. Coaching yourself to success is about creating and sustaining small habits, which then gain momentum over time. It’s not about taking a massive leap – or adopting an all-or-nothing mindset, triggered in response to a recent event – or even what’s going on around us right now. It’s about going easy on yourself and taking a planned, measured approach to implementing change and creating the life you want.

If you want to hear more from Fogg himself, check out this TED Talk, in which he shares his tips for building tiny habits that lead to major change.

– The Coach Place Global

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