Why Small Changes Are Good

How many of you have tried a new year's resolution? Or planned to go to the gym more? One less sugar in your tea, or perhaps drink more water throughout the day?

Habits are hard to form or break. We all know that from experience! When you try scaling new habits and behaviours to an organisation - just as we do with our mental health and wellness programmes - the challenge can look daunting.

Behavioural change is systematic and it’s incredibly achievable. When you know how...

Long-Term Behavioural Change

BJ Fogg of Stanford University is a leader in behavioural change and habit forming. Fogg points at 2 approaches to changing long-term behaviour:

1. Change your environment

Very reliable and effective, however this takes time. We’ll come back to this one in another post.

2. Make the changes small

Make the changes small and simple - Tiny Habits - the cornerstone of the Fogg Behavioural Model.

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Tiny Habits

In Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg looks at the key elements of habit forming. There are 3 things that need to happen at the same time to form a habit:

Motivation: The ‘Want’

Motivation is often the first thing people look at when trying to form habits. In reality, high-motivation is great for short term behavioural change, though isn’t actually reliable for longer term change.

That’s why the Fogg Behavioural Model specifically focuses on small changes. Those ‘easy-to-do’, small changes allow you to reduce the emphasis on ‘Motivation’.  Simpler things, quite simply, require less motivation.

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That’s why we are more likely to support your people with 30 seconds of conscious breathwork rather than a 45 minute Bikram Yoga Session (though both can have their place!)

Jen Fisher, Deloitte’s Chief Well-being Officer, provides some great habit-forming ideas in the Work Well podcast: stretches at your work-from-home desk after each meeting;  scheduling in small breaks throughout the day.

“Sometimes the biggest barrier to self-care is feeling like it’s too much or there isn’t enough time.”
Jen Fisher, Chief Well-being Officer, Deloitte

So make smaller changes. Ones that will reduce the emphasis on high motivation.

Ability: Knowing ‘How’

When working with a new organisation, we always start with our foundation assessment. This ensures we provide your teams with tools and techniques that are specific to your environment and your specific needs.

A great example is the sleep training we provide shift workers, or the posture alignment techniques we provide for the large number of desk-workers in today’s world.

Ensuring that you know how to make proven, small, incremental changes is key. Individuals must be given the skills and not just the space.

Trigger: The ‘Call To Action’

Finally, key to Fogg’s behaviour model is the Trigger. The Trigger is simply associating the intended behaviour with an existing behaviour that happens regularly. Finding these moments and committing to them is key to forming long-term habits. So Triggers could be:

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  • After you brush your teeth
  • After you go to the bathroom
  • After you use the stairs

It’s only when the individual has the know-how (ability), the behaviour is simple (motivation), and there’s a clear ‘call to action’ (Trigger) that the new habit will begin to form. Here’s a template for you to try:

After I __________________, I will ________________.

So....

  • After I go to the bathroom, I will do 30 seconds of conscious breathwork.
  • After a video call, I will do 3 sitting-down stretches.
  • After putting the kettle on, I will think of 2 things that make me feel happy.
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Give it a go!

And if you need support with your organisation, or want to understand how we can support your existing programmes, please get in touch with myself or one of the team.