We all know developing good habits is a happy thing, so much so that we make promises to ourselves at New Year’s and at our birthdays that we’re going to develop habits…only to break them days, weeks, or maybe even months later. Not because we consciously decide to break them, but because we lose track of them, or we don’t feel like it one day, or life happens and throws off our schedule.
However, there’s a growing trend of making and keeping tiny habits. A tiny habit is that one singular thing you can do daily that will benefit you in the long run. If you’ve set a goal for yourself of running a marathon, and you know your most common excuse for not getting out and running is wardrobe-related, you might set a tiny habit of putting on your running shoes before breakfast. If you’ve set a goal of writing a blog post every single day, you might set the tiny habit of reading your news feed the moment you sit down at your desk. If you’re looking to grow your audience or network, you might set the goal of responding to one social media post every morning.
I started using tiny habits last year, and have now amassed a small army (two or three for each key area of my life). My inner writer responds to a writing prompt every morning and listens to writing podcasts every other morning. My inner voice actor listens to voiceover podcasts every other morning, and either narration clips or audio drama episodes every morning. They’re small. They get me moving and thinking. And they give me something I can take with me as I work through the day. (Days when I don’t get to listen to my podcasts in the morning are easily my least productive.)
The point is to choose tiny habits to will help you move closer to a goal in some way. They can help you build skills, get in some practice time, connect with others working toward the same goal. Whatever you choose, it has to benefit you. When it stops benefiting you, drop it and move on to a tiny habit that will.
If you find it easier to complete a tiny habit when you’re accountable, there are many ways to go. There’s the tried-and-true calendar method, where you mark off each day you complete your tiny habit. (Markers and stickers are delightful tools.) If you like the idea of a calendar, but haven’t thought about paper in forever, set up a specific calendar on your digital calendar and record every day you accomplish your habit. Some sites, like Sparkpeople and Joe’s Goals, have a simple tick system to help you track when you complete a task. When you want to see how you’re doing, you can focus the calendar to see what days are marked, or use built-in streak tools to monitor your progress.
You can even choose to monitor your success in implementing your tiny habit just by monitoring how much easier you’re moving toward your goal. If you’re diligently practicing your tiny habit, you should be seeing steady progress toward your goal. If not, you should probably keep a closer eye on your tiny habit.
Give it a try. Select one small, singular thing you could do to move yourself closer to a goal, and then make it a tiny habit. See if it doesn’t help you keep your toes pointed forward.