Who needs a coach? Chances are you do, even if you’re doing just fine. Come to think of it, the more successful you are now, the more likely it is that you could do with some expert input if you want to make significant progress. It’s the law of diminishing returns, which in this context means that working harder at the same strategies you’ve always used might not get the results you want. Leading executive coach Marshall Goldsmith called one of his books What Got You Here Won’t Get You There for a reason! Of course, elite athletes have always had coaches and these days so do top executives and entrepreneurs.
There are many things I love about being a coach for BJ Fogg's Tiny Habits 5-day programme. Here are my top 3:
1. It’s free. I find this simple fact absolutely thrilling. Think about it: anyone in the world who has access to the internet (even just for a few minutes a day) can participate. They get the benefits of the distilled wisdom of the world’s leading expert in behaviour design, as well as the focused attention of a trained coach. All this without entering a credit card number or facing the prospect of a hard sell at the end of the programme. And they are welcome to sign up as many times as they want. What’s the catch? There is none. Really. Try it and see.
2. It’s easy. Fogg Maxim #2 is “Help people feel successful.” The programme is designed to make it as quick and easy as possible for participants (aka “habiteers”) to create new habits. It takes just a few minutes over the weekend to read and watch the online instructions. Then Monday to Friday, all a participant needs to do is reply to the daily email with a string of four characters, answering the questions “Did you do your habits today?” and “Do you plan to do them tomorrow?” (See previous post.) Coaches don’t expect everyone to create perfect habit recipes straight away – that’s why we’re here, to make suggestions, answer questions, and generally make it as easy as possible for our habiteers to succeed.
4. It’s fun. OK, a bit of self-disclosure here before I tell you about the most important skill in habit change. I was a serious, studious kid; I spent a long time in grad school, and ended up specialising in post-Holocaust philosophy and the problem of evil. So maybe I have a low bar for fun.
“Celebration” is at the heart of Fogg’s approach to behaviour change. It is based on his insight that “emotions create habits.” Hammering the point home, Fogg writes:
"Emotions create habits. Not repetition. Not frequency. Not fairy dust. Emotions." (Tiny Habits, p. 137)
Until now, English has lacked a word for the specific emotion we feel when we experience success. Fogg calls this ‘Shine’:
"You know this feeling already. You feel Shine when you ace an exam. You feel Shine when you give a great presentation and people clap at the end. You feel Shine when you smell something delicious that you cooked for the first time." (p. 143)
Now for the fun part: since emotions create habits, the key to successful habit formation is linking a positive emotion to the behaviour. Theoretically, any positive emotion could work to provide this positive reinforcement, but Fogg focuses on Shine. Think back to a time when you felt good about achieving something – got that job offer, won a prize, scored a goal. For sports fans, it also works to remember a time when your team succeeded. How did you feel and what did you do? Did you jump to your feet, clap your hands, shout “whoohoo”? Did you smile discreetly, nod your head, snap your fingers, hum a little? Whatever you remember or can imagine yourself doing would probably work as a “celebration” for you, especially if it feels fun. Imagine how much more enjoyable your life would be if you could enjoy this feeling multiple times every day. Here’s the good news: you can!
I wrote in a previous post that, despite the pandemic, there have been recent days when I genuinely have never been happier. Tiny Habits has a lot to do with this – throughout the day, I am celebrating every time I do one of my new habits. And a lot of the time I’m following Fogg’s advice to celebrate each habit three times: when I remember to do it, while I'm doing it and immediately after I do it. That’s a lot of celebration, a lot of Shine, and a whole lot of dopamine. Whoohoo!
p.s. If you would like to sign up for the free 5-day Tiny Habits programme, with me as your coach, please get in touch.
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