Microhabits: Small Steps for Big Life Changes

Many people strive to make positive changes to improve their lives. While it can be easy to give up unhealthy food or alcohol short-term, it is habits that determine our success in the long run.

Microhabits can be implemented in every area of your life. Whether your goals are to be more active, eat better, floss more, write a book or change your career, implementing the following microhabits could affect your life in a major way.

Embrace Change

One key tip for habit change of any scale is to have the right mindset. There are different ways to do this, from journaling to repeating affirmations.

One of the simplest ways is to begin each day with a simple question: How can I change my life today?

The difference between this and ‘getting through the day’ is understanding that the choices you make can actually change your life forever.

That mindset mixed in with microhabits makes it easy and manageable to start today instead of waiting until tomorrow.

It makes a big difference to open yourself up to the possibilities and actively make an effort to improve.

Start small habits to achieve big results
Start small habits to achieve big results

Fogg Method

Phychologist and researcher at Stanford University, B.J. Fogg, has studied behavior change for more than two decades.

He created the Fogg Method, a simple three-step system that aims to help individuals turn new behaviors into routines. He even offers a free online course that you can enroll in here.

Various psychological theories go into the Fogg Method, which applies the same ideas as microhabits. There are three simple steps to follow:

  1. Identify a specific desired outcome or big picture goal.
  2. Identify easy-win behaviors that will act as small steps towards achieving the goal. These will vary from person to person – no one can determine them for you.
  3. Find a trigger, which refers to an already established habit, and attach the new behavior to it.

It sounds a little complicated, but it really isn’t. For example, if your big picture goal is to follow a healthier lifestyle, an easy-win behavior can be drinking more water.

A trigger can be drinking your morning coffee. You can drink a cup of water while your beans are brewing, then make sure to celebrate the achievement.


Start Small and Celebrate

A key reason why the Fogg Method and microhabits work is because they have achievable goals.

One tooth at the time 01

Fogg’s go-to example is flossing only one tooth after brushing your teeth. Ultimately, it will be easy to accomplish and you will be encouraged to go one or two steps further.

“The more you succeed, the more capable you get at succeeding in the future,” Fogg says. “So you don’t start with the hardest behaviors first, you start with the ones you want to do and you can do and you persist.”

One tooth at the time 02

Basically, starting small causes a ripple effect. After flossing one tooth, you go on to a second, etc.

If your goal is to take a sip of water, you may end up taking more or even finishing the glass. It is really important to celebrate these small victories.

Simply patting yourself on the back and saying “yay” or “go me” will help you rewrite your identity as someone who succeeds.

The tiny achievements add up and help one both consciously and subconsciously break down the barriers in their lives.

You can watch B.J. Fogg’s Ted Talk for free here:


Examples of Microhabits to Consider for 2021

Forbes published a list of 22 microhabits that have the power to change your life in one year.

There are various examples, but some simple ones include writing just one paragraph or a few sentences every day.

Whether it’s a blog, book or self-reflection, eventually you’ll build momentum and the words will flow.

Another great one is to actively try to be rejected more. Go out of your way to reach out to people to work with or apply for opportunities even if you are certain they would have no reason to respond. Worst case they don’t answer, or say “no” and you’ll get comfortable with rejection.

Or they’ll say yes and you’ll have a new amazing opportunity!

For anyone with financial goals, consider checking your bank account every day. This obviously helps you see how much is coming in vs. coming out.

Plus it can alert you to any suspicious activity or subscriptions that should be canceled.

Microhabits are tiny changes, actions or omissions that you should do every day with a big goal in mind.

Starting small and celebrating your victories will change your mindset and help you go bigger and change for life.

Add small routines such as flossing just one tooth after brushing, taking a sip of water before your morning coffee and always start your day with the question, “how can I change my life today?”.

Listen to more about microhabits in this podcast.

Photos: Shutterstock / Edited by: Martina Advaney

Starting this year right is pivotal for a lot of us. Here is some great advice we picked up from Neerja Birla.

Starting 2021 Right: Mental Health Advice from Neerja Birla

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