Soul Sculpting: Just Need More Will-Power? Maybe Not.
When do you feel like a will-power wimp?
I feel that way when my wave of motivation ebbs and I turn to my will-power to lean on. More often than I like, my will-power crumples and I fail to stick with the plan I created in my moment of inspiration.
Will-power is like a muscle.
- Use it and it gets stronger.
- Use it and it gets tired.
Will-power is not as reliable as I thought it was.
I am grateful to report that will-power is not the only tool in our box for creating change in our life.
When will-power is not enough we can turn to HABIT.
- We operate more than 40% of our waking day in habit mode.
- Habits are easy. No brain fatigue of making decisions: actions are just automatic.
- Instead of depending solely on will-power we can create habits.
Here is the plan for behavior change using Habit:
- A new behavior
- A trigger to set it off.
Here is my self-talk process of creating a new behavior habit:
“I’ve been reading about the wonders of gratitude and I think I need more gratitude in my life.”
Sounds good. What’s your goal?
I want to become more grateful.
Hum, too general. Specific goals are stronger.
OK, I want to write down 10 things a day that I am grateful for.
The specific is good, but your motivation will ebb and your will-power is already taxed with your other goals. Make this goal smaller. I suggest thinking of one thing a day you are grateful for.
Well, you are right on my motivation and will-power, but one gratitude sounds way too tiny to be effective.
Then let’s do the math. With the 10 a day plan you will come up with 140 things in two weeks. And two weeks is about as long as you can expect your motivation and will-power to hold out.
With the one a day plan we can create a Tiny Habit. In two weeks you will have only thought of 14 things, but since this is a habit you won’t be leaning on motivation or will-power and you can keep going.
After one month you will be at 30 gratitudes. In 5 months you will pass up your 10 a day plan.
This Tiny Habit could last for years. At 3 years you are over 1000.
And all this math assumes you only think of one a day. Once you begin this kind of a thought pattern you will most likely find that gratitude grows and spills out in unexpected places.
You will, in fact, reach your original goal of becoming more grateful.
All right, let’s try the one-a-day plan.
Now you need a trigger. Something you do once a day to attach this new habit to.
How about first thing when I wake up?
No, you already had a tiny habit for that action. Let’s not clutter it.
How about my morning tea?
Here is my plan: every morning when I drink my tea I will think of one thing I am grateful for.
Yes! We have a Tiny Habit launch.
If this Tiny Habit doesn’t work for me I do not have a motivation or will-power problem.
The action is so tiny it requires very little of either.
When a Tiny Habit fails it is simply a design problem.
- Do I need to pick another trigger? This will be the case for me, because I only drink tea on cold mornings.
- Is the action is too big and I need to make it even smaller? Make it so tiny motivation and will-power are not needed.
- Is this goal not really my goal? In this case, then I’ll abandon the habit and find a real goal.
- Do I need a better way to remember the trigger? Post-it notes might work for me.
The #1 Rule for Tiny Habits is to be PLAYFUL.
- Keep adjusting until we find the perfect fit.
Most Soul Sculpting Projects are designed to be used as Tiny Habits
When you find a project that feels like a good fit for you here is what you do:
- Name a specific Very Tiny action (1 gratitude)
- Attach it to a trigger to remind you to do it. (Morning tea)
- Use notes or other reminders to create this attachment. (post-it note)
- If your habit doesn’t work. Make adjustments and keep playing. (Pick new trigger)
Soul Sculpting Projects will transform us – over time.
I am grateful for the Work of Dr. B.J. Fogg (Stanford) for research on behavior change and the creation of Tiny Habits.