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Go Tiny! Aim Big! 

The small boulder and the mighty mountain peak share a few things in common…

The small boulder and the mighty mountain peak share a few things in common…

“If you want to change your life, you’ve got to have a goal that’s big enough to inspire you. Go big, or go home!”

“Change only happens incrementally. The tinier the shift, the easier it is to modify a behavior. Tiny habits rule!”

I’m betting that a lot of you reading this right now have come across both schools of thought. However, despite being treated as dueling approaches, micro-habits and big goals hang out together on the same curb.

Tiny Habits, an approach developed by Stanford behavioral researcher, BJ Fogg, is based on the premise that if we adopt a new habit that’s super easy to stick with, we’ll eventually make our way to the bigger goal by encouraging a snowball effect. From his research, Fogg concluded that only three things will change behavior in the long term: a) an epiphany b) a new environment and c) taking baby steps.

Since most of us won’t be able to uproot ourselves and epiphanies tend to be sort of rare, we’re left with learning from our earliest self. 

Fogg’s outlined three steps to implementing a tiny habit: 

1) You need to GET SPECIFIC. What behavior do you want to change? What outcome would you like to have?

2)  You’ve got to KEEP IT SIMPLE. How can you make the behavior easy to do? 

3).  You’ll want to TRIGGER THE BEHAVIOR. For example, you might say, “every morning after I brush my teeth, I’ll do ten pushups.” The trigger is brushing your teeth, and the Tiny Habit is ten pushups. 

What will prompt you to engage in the behavior? Does your trigger already exist, or will you need to create it from scratch? 

Finally, Fogg emphasizes that after you complete the Tiny Habit, you’ve got to celebrate. That could be as small as yodeling “Woohoo!” or giving yourself a pat on the back.

I’m a big fan of Tiny Habits and have shared Fogg’s principles in many corporate wellness talks. Visualizing big goals, like quitting smoking and running a marathon, coupled with beginning your journey to that goal by implementing a Tiny Habit, like lacing up your running shoes each morning after you finish breakfast, is a sure path to celebration. 


Check out BJ Fogg’s TED talk on Tiny Habits, and then try it out for yourself! (

Power Question: 

What Tiny Habit could you cultivate in working toward a bigger goal? What’s the trigger for that Tiny Habit? 

This is post #3 in a long series on habit change. Do you have any thoughts on big goals and Tiny Habits? Have you tried the Tiny Habits method before? Leave your comments below! Thanks for reading!



  Creating a Morning Practice

Rise and shine!

Rise and shine!

Yesterday’s post addressed the power of a daily morning visualization. Nesting this practice into a set morning routine will strengthen its potency considerably. Countless articles have already been written on the morning habits of highly successful people. Generally, they advise one to get up early, exercise first thing, engage in some type of motivational mental practice like prayer or mindfulness, and do the hardest tasks first. There’s even a bestselling book, “My Morning Routine,” detailing what famous people do as soon as they wake up!

In my years as a coach, I’ve found that there’s really no one winning formula for a morning routine — everybody’s different. One person might gain energy and focus by getting up at 8am, reading the Bible and walking their dogs as exercise. Someone else might find their daily golden ticket in a morning visualization, 5km run and cold shower before sunrise.

We all have unique goals, motivations, preferences and constraints. What matters is that a consistent morning practice has been established— something that you can rely on to weather bad moods, low energy, and challenging times. A morning routine is an insurance policy against the motivation extinction everyone experiences at least once in a while.

Setting up a sustainable, consistent morning routine requires some experimentation. I have yet to meet a single person who sets one up and sticks to it right out of the gate. Play around with all the “first thing” activities that might improve your life. Make a list of them. Can you imagine doing three of those activities within a block of thirty minutes to an hour? What combinations might work for you? For instance, you might consider:

Morning Routine #1:

6am: Wake up
Hot shower 
Morning Visualization 
45 minute workout at the gym


Morning Routine #2:

6:30 am: Wake Up
Morning Visualization
30 minute run outside
Cold shower 

Try each of your potential morning practice out for a week. Take note of any changes or ideas during this time. Which one feels most beneficial to you?

Action: Design a morning practice that will power each day. Write it out in detail. 

Power Questions: What three actions can you take in the morning to set you up for success? What would motivate you to stick with this morning practice?



  Minding Your Mind in the Morning

How will you frame your mindset in the morning?  Photo: Penang, Malaysia

How will you frame your mindset in the morning?

Photo: Penang, Malaysia

Each morning, most of us have the ability to direct the mood of our day. We can either carry our subconscious fears, nightmares and anxieties into breakfast and beyond. Or, we can redecorate the rooms of our mind to create a more pleasant atmosphere. Consider Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl. During his imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp where he witnessed catastrophic loss and death firsthand, Frankl immersed himself in positive memory and the imagery of hope, which he credits for his survival. After his release, he developed logotherapy, a therapeutic method that focuses on increasing one’s will by locating a sense of meaning through the mind’s creation. Closer to home, it can safely be said that Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, was able to see beyond the malarial swamp that is now a glittering global success story. And, a highly cited study conducted by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation found that simply visualizing exercise led to greater muscle activation levels and improved overall outcomes. In other words, participants gained significant strength through mental training. There are countless examples to support the real power of visualization. 

Morning visualization—“seeing” our day in our minds when we first wake up—has three distinct benefits. First, it gives you the opportunity to reprogram your subconscious mind on a daily basis. Studies on neuroplasticity provide ample evidence that we can indeed rewire our brains. But, in order to fill in those old negative grooves, we’ve got to create new mental images. Second, visualization in the morning will better prepare you to actually do the things that you’d like to do. If I can imagine enjoying and completing a thirty minute run before the sun rises, I’ll be a lot more motivated to lace up those running shoes instead of staying in bed. Third, morning visualization enhances what’s within your control. We encounter so many circumstances each day that are beyond our making: traffic jams, a grumpy boss, an after-work party with lots of alcohol and unhealthy food. Visualization prepares you to focus on what you can change instead of orienting your mind toward frustration. 

Visualization is a superpower that all of us possess.

What’s happening around us can have less of an impact on our reality than what’s happening within us. When you consistently seed your mind with life generating thoughts, the world around you flourishes and you’ll begin to see yourself bloom, too. 

Now, here’s something for you to try…


You’ve just awoken. Set a timer for 60 seconds and visualize your desired day ahead. Then, plan the day out based on that visualization, focusing on what’s within your control. 

Power Question:  

What does my ideal day look like? Write it out!

Thanks for reading! Any thoughts on this post? Leave them in the comments section below. This is post #1 in an extended series on habit change that will help you reflect on your health behaviors and take positive action. More on that later!


© Tangram Fitness 2013