The Key to Making Habits Easy (New Habits Pt. 2)

 Discover the most doable Golden Behaviors that are catered to your personality and lifestyle and be on your way to reaching your 2021 goals!

  • By Jess Dang
  • January 12, 2021

Today I am going to teach you how to make habits easy with Fogg’s Focus Mapping and Tiny-fying steps. If you’re just joining our New Habits in 2021 series based on BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, start with our first two lessons: Introduction to Tiny Habits and Part I: The Equation for Building Tiny Habits that Last.

In yesterday’s Part I post, I had you create what B.J. Fogg calls a “swarm of behaviors.” The behaviors you wrote down in that exercise were specific actions you can take to support the larger aspiration that you chose for this new year. 

For example, perhaps you’re looking to eat healthier in 2021. Your list of possible behaviors to support this outcome might look like this:

  1. Create a weekly meal plan (obviously!)
  2. Create a list of recipes to try
  3. Subscribe to a meal plan service
  4. Find a buddy to cook with (perhaps virtually?)
  5. Stop buying soda and drink more water
  6. Start every morning with a glass of water
  7. Limit fast food to just once a week
  8. Delete meal delivery apps from phone
  9. Download an app to track calories
  10. Purge pantry, fridge, and freezer of unhealthy foods
  11. Move unhealthy foods to back of pantry, fridge, and freezer
  12. Learn to use a knife properly
  13. Pack a salad for lunch every day
  14. Prep ingredients the night before
  15. Prep ingredients over the weekend
  16. Wash, dry, and prep vegetables as soon as you get home
  17. Buy at least 3 vegetables / week
  18. Eat 3 vegetables every day
  19. Order groceries to avoid the snack aisle at the store

This is just a small sample of what a person could do to support their aspiration to eat healthier in 2021.

Focus Mapping

For today’s activity, we’re going to take the next step: mapping out the behavior swarm along 2 axes. (If you’re following along in Fogg’s book, this covers pages 58 to 67, step #3 in Behavior Design.)

This step is called Focus Mapping, and you can download our PDF here or just quickly sketch out your own. Now go through each of the behaviors you swarmed up yesterday and:

  1. Decide how impactful the behavior would be to help you meet your aspiration and map it along the y axis.
  2. Decide how likely you are to actually do the behavior and map it along the x axis. In this step, you really need to be realistic, so this isn’t about your “best self.” Think about this action in the context of “regular you.” Will “regular you” be motivated to take this action? This is not a time for judgment but honesty, because the most successful habits are about helping people to do the actions that are easy to do and that they already want to do.

Once you’re done focus mapping your behaviors, circle the ones in the upper right corner. Those are going to be your “Golden Behaviors,” which are the key to trying to make habits easy. They are the actions that are both easiest for you to want to do and most effective for getting you closer to your aspiration.

Tiny-fy Behaviors

Next, we are going to tiny-fy a few of your behaviors (again, if you’re following along in the book, we’re now on Chapter 3). Making your Golden Behaviors tiny and doable doesn’t mean you have to put all of them into action today, but it will help you have a few options to choose from in the coming days and weeks.

Let’s say these are 3 of the golden behaviors I identified for helping me eat healthier:

  1. Create a weekly meal plan
  2. Delete meal delivery apps from phone
  3. Prep ingredients the night before

We’ll take each one and figure out what the tiniest version of it is to help us both increase our motivation to do it (because it’s so simple and easy), and also increase our ability to do it (because again, it’s so easy!).

These tiny steps might seem so small that they won’t make an impact at all, but it’s actually less about the content of the step and more about the fact that it’s forward motion. You see, when the step is small enough that it feels so doable — that you would even feel foolish not to do it — the act of doing it will eventually prime you to do more.

So, let’s tiny-fy…

1. Create a weekly meal plan

Creating an entire weekly meal plan, especially if you’ve never done it before and have no process in place, is a lot of work (believe me, I know from lots of experience). So, instead of creating an entire weekly meal plan, here are what some tinier, more doable variations can be:

  • Open up my calendar.
  • Open up a cookbook.*
  • Write down 1 vegetable you want to cook the next week.

Along the same lines, we also encourage our newest and most novice Cook Smarts members to pick only 1 meal from our weekly menu when they start. If you’re new to home cooking, feeling like you need to cook all 4 of the meals we offer on our weekly menu can feel too daunting, and it’s actually the #1 reason we see people cancel. However, starting with 1 meal is totally doable and a great place to build up from. 

2. Delete meal delivery apps from phone

Even though this is a one-time action that’s pretty easy to do, we can still tiny-fy it into a recurring action that will help you make progress towards your aspiration. If your prior habit was to always open your meal delivery app at dinnertime, then you’ll still feel that urge when you get hungry.

However, you can decide that every time you feel that urge to open Postmates (which remember, is no longer on your phone!), you can do one of these tiny behaviors instead:

  • Set out your cutting board and knife.*
  • Eat a baby carrot.
  • Open a bag of salad mix.

3. Prep ingredients the night before

I truly believe that meal prep is one of the most important habits to healthy eating, but I know getting the motivation to do it is hard. So, instead of spending hours chopping vegetables, let’s try these tiny actions instead:

  • Write out 1 thing you can do to make dinner easier tomorrow night.
  • Set out your cutting board and knife.*
  • Get out your salad spinner.*

Now your turn to tiny-fy a few of your golden behaviors. You can use our download here or just use any blank sheet of paper you have lying around.

Eventually you will build on these starter steps — and you may even find yourself doing that right away because the first starter step was all the momentum you needed to get yourself in the mode to act. And if you want some extra credit, you can also figure out what the next step to these tiny steps would be (what Fogg calls “scale back”).

For example, the tiny step of opening up your calendar becomes “schedule 1 meal”; setting out your cutting board and knife becomes “chop 1 vegetable”; write out 1 thing you can do to make dinner easier tomorrow night becomes “write out a list of all the ingredients you need to prep”.

So that’s going to do it for today’s lesson. I know that finding your Golden Behaviors and tiny-fying them is going to help you make habits easy in 2021 so you can reach your goals. Come back tomorrow and I will teach you to create recipes for real-life action out of your list of tiny habits!

And don’t forget — if eating better, cooking more, being more organized, or improving your health is your 2021 aspiration, take advantage of our New Years Sale through 2/2/21.

Just use code NEWHABITS to get 20% off of our meal plans that include so many amazing features to help you make habits easy!

*Fogg also notes that tiny-fying is just 1 of 3 strategies to make a behavior more doable. The others are increasing our skills and acquiring the right resources and tools. Setting out a cutting board and knife might not be that helpful if you don’t know how to use a knife so taking a short online knife skills class might be where you start. You also might need some essential tools to make a behavior — big or small — doable, too.

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