Just did one push-up this morning? Say to yourself “I’m awesome!” Flossed one tooth? Do a little dance!

Setting goals that are incredibly easy may not seem like it will do much towards reaching your goals. But these are a few of the tips from BJ Fogg’s TEDx talk on creating tiny habits for making long term changes.

Set Small, Achievable Goals

For some, making long-term, positive changes to your life can feel daunting. “I have to run for 30 minutes 4 days a week, go to bed early, AND stop eating mint chocolate chip ice cream!”

That mindset would be daunting for anyone!

But what about, “I have to lace up my running shoes once a day.” That seems do-able.

The power of simple, easy habits comes from precisely that reason – they’re easy! It’s no use setting a goal of running a marathon if you never get off the couch. But lacing up some running shoes? I can do that!

Positive Affirmation as Weight Loss Rewards Makes Habits Stick

The magic happens when tiny habits build over time. Your running shoes are on? Reward yourself…”I’m awesome!” This reward is important. It may sound silly, but internally rewarding yourself – letting yourself be pleased with your accomplishment – does wonders for motivation and persisting with your new habit.

Your Weight Loss Rewards Shouldn’t Be Counterproductive

One caveat to your reward, is don’t tie your weight loss rewards to a different bad habit! Or worse, the exact habit you’re trying to change! You don’t want to associate a chocolate sundae as your reward for eating 4-5 servings of vegetables when you’re trying to reward healthy eating. This hurts your motivation, your reward system, and ultimately undermines your efforts.

Small Wins Build Better Long-Term Habits

Over time, Professor Fogg has noticed people naturally build upon them. You’ll decide, “well, my shoes are already on. I might as well go for a walk around the block.” Before you know it, the walk gets longer. And longer. It might even turn into a jog…

Introducing a new habit into your routine can be difficult, if not impossible. A trigger can help remind you to do your habit! A useful trick is to tie the trigger to a habit you already have. Using an existing habit to trigger your new habit change creates an easier path to adopting (and remembering) the new habit. So perhaps you lace your running shoes after you finish the dishes or every time your favorite evening news show ends.

This tactic is especially useful for healthy eating habits. Eating healthy is a long term game, so getting into good habits is essential. Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, explains that the French say a meal is over when they’re full or the food no longer tastes good; whereas Americans are done eating when their plate is empty. Perhaps the meal itself could be the trigger?

Perhaps the tiny habit is that you leave one bite left on your plate before calling the meal complete? Add that bite to tomorrow’s meal, and by the end of the week those bites may add up to entire, additional meal every week.

Just don’t forget to reward yourself!

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