Habits

Sometime at the end of 2010, I set up a daily Google Alert to receive all news stories on health behavior change. Not much came through to my daily feed, and that which did was about dentistry or animals:

Health behavior change exploded in 2011, and now my daily news feed is 5 times as long with all sorts of interesting articles. This is today’s top story:

If health behavior change was the million dollar word of 2011, habits will be (or already is) the million dollar word of 2012. We are seeing a surge of groups and programs focus on daily habits, for instance Habit Design, Daily Feats, iDoneThis, and BJ Fogg’s 3 Tiny Habits. This is good news.

I participated in BJ’s 3 Tiny Habits program last week. It was simple and effective. I was particularly excited to try it during the holiday week, and chose habits related to nutrition & managing stress….meaning, I purposely choose more challenging domains as this is my expertise and I wanted to test it. It was BJ’s first attempt at administering the program through SMS, and I was thrilled about that. His main messages were to:

  • keep these habits as small as possible,
  • identify and design around anchor behaviors (stable behaviors like waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, tying your shoes, etc.),
  • celebrate habitual victories.

So I chose to:

  • take 3 deep breaths upon waking each morning before doing anything else,
  • pour water into my wine glass at dinner, and
  • write one sentence in my OhLife journal after dinner.

I learned a ton; and  have two big takeaways: 1) anchors (e.g. stable behaviors) are critical in forming new habits, and 2) spending even a few days practicing tiny habits elevates confidence exponentially. I feel way more empowered than the week before.

So I just set up my daily Google Alerts for “habits” — Now we just need government and corporate America and the other parties with resources to change healthcare to open up to the how of health behavior change: habits.

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