Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
It’s no accident that - if you scroll through mental health or productivity content on even a semi-regular basis - you’re probably getting some encouragement about not giving up on your 2020 goals.
Several pieces of research show that a startling majority of people - even highly motivated people - give up on their 2020 goals before January is in the books.
Nearly every year for the past three years, I’ve set a pretty simple goal of losing a minimum of 10 lbs.
It’s a stated goal in numerous 13-week Best Self Journals.
My 3 progress goals and actions/tasks attached to this objective over the years have included:
- Walking x minutes for y days per week
- Eating at least 2 helpings of fresh vegetables or fruits every day
- A bedtime routine that gives me every opportunity to average at least 7.5 hours sleep per week
There are a few more things I’ve tried over the years, but you get the idea.
Bottom line is that none of it worked.
I mean, NONE of it.
The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result, right?
So I decided to make a change.
Right now I’m reading Tiny Habits: The Small Habits that Change Everything by noted behavioral scientist and Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg - which is where I got the idea to radically simplify the daily actions for big result goals.
For the first quarter of 2020, I changed my weight loss goal just a bit, based on Tiny Habits principles.
First, I upped my goal. I wanted to lose FIFTEEN pounds. Honestly, though, Fogg advocates that change is less about the goal and a lot more about keeping the action SIMPLE.
So, for my weight loss objective this time around, I only wrote down ONE progress goal and action/task:
OPEN NOOM APP!
The week of Christmas I signed up for Noom - a subscription service designed to assist in behavior modification through science.
Noom focuses on weight loss as the result goal, but the daily teachings and habits result in changed behaviors - which is a game-changer.
Several friends from my recovery community are Noom subscribers and we all see the correlations between the 12 steps of recovery and the Noom program.
What’s really cool about having only ONE result goal inside my Best Self Journal weight loss objective - OPEN NOOM APP - is that once I check that action off my list every day, Noom gives me a series of tiny tasks.
First is to weigh.
Next is to log my meals.
Third is to track my activity.
Fourth is to read a few snack-sized insights about the science of behavior and weight loss.
The entire process throughout the day takes no more than 20 minutes.
Even on days when I was too busy to digest the readings, quizzes, and assignments inside Noom, I’ve weighed every day, and I’ve tracked my calories.
What’s the result of greatly simplifying my habit goal and investing in Noom?
Since December 24, I’ve lost nearly 7 lbs.
Almost halfway to my weight loss goal.
But that’s not all.
Monday night I experienced a tangible result from the weight loss.
When I began my Noom journey, I articulated my why.
Why do I want to drop a few pounds and pay closer attention to my health and wellbeing?
Because I’d like to breathe deeply, be more active, and have greater stamina to live a great life, enjoy loved ones, and contribute to society in a way that chronic asthma has somewhat encumbered the past several years.
The Monday night moment wasn’t planned.
It just happened.
I played a spirited game of half-court hoops with a young friend.
We played hard for about 20 minutes.
He beat me with a clutch 3-pointer.
While I’m no fan of losing - especially to a fourth grader - I took the loss in stride.
Partially, because I’m proud of the work my young friend has done. He’s practiced hard on getting that outside shot right. It’s a sweet stroke.
The big win though was that I got to experience how much better my lungs function when I’m carrying around less weight.
Three months ago, there’s no way I could have endured that kind of activity without triggering an asthma attack.
I still have a lot more work to do.
But I’m confident that learning to simplify habits - and choosing high leverage habits to implement - will help me continue to improve health, spiritual life, and professional pursuits.
For instance, I’ve written and published more than 10,000 words this month because I made a commitment to “Open Ulysses,” which is my favorite writing app.
When I open my writing app, it seems ridiculous to not write a few words.
How about you?
What’s a pursuit that’s fallen by the wayside this month?
What’s one tiny thing you can do to help you get back on track?
Professor Fogg’s “habit recipe” for building a new tiny habit works like this:
After I (do the habit you already do regularly - like brush your teeth):
I will (do the new habit you want to implement - like floss one tooth).
To wire the habit into my brain, I will (here’s where you do some sort of little victory dance or smile at yourself in the mirror as a way to produce good hormones in your brain).
Will you implement this recipe on just one thing you really, really want to improve upon in your life?
Share your recipe with me, would you?
Tracy@rebootspodcast.com or @tracyplaces on Twitter.