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The Maui Habit: a tiny habit that feels good!

I’ve just started the Maui Habit, and it feels good! The Maui Habit is the first example of a tiny habit that BJ Fogg shares in his book, Tiny Habits, The Small Changes That Change Everything.

The Maui Habit explained

The Maui Habit takes a few seconds and very little effort. And yet is has an impact. When you wake up in the morning and put your feet on the ground, say to yourself:

Today is going to be a great day!

Then, celebrate your first achievement of the day with a smile 😊

I’m implementing the Maui Habit with 3 other tiny habits that I’ve created for myself. They feel good, and that’s one of the key points from the book. Change works best when we feel good about each little change that we make.

The Maui Habit is not a typical tiny habit

However, in one way the Maui Habit is not a typical tiny habit. It’s a complete and perfect habit, rather than a step towards more significant change.

Let me explain…

Tiny habits are about starting small and feeling good. Want to get fit? Start by getting into the habit of a single push-up each day. Immediately after your push-up, smile and celebrate your new habit. Be happy that you’ve achieved your goal.

And the next day, if you want to do two push-ups, go for it! But know that a single push-up is the goal. That’s when you stop, smile, and congratulate yourself. After one push-up you’ve achieved your goal for the day. Anything more is a bonus.

Your motivation is fickle, don’t rely on it

One of the ideas in the book that I found most powerful is that we tend to blame ourselves for failing: “I didn’t try hard enough”, “I’m too lazy”, “I just don’t have the self-control”. The truth? The cause of failure is not ourselves, it’s what we’ve learnt about the nature of change.

We all have lofty aspirations, and we all struggle to achieve them. It might be starting a business, or losing weight, or learning a specific skill (or writing a blog!).

And because of our aspirations we are naturally drawn to examples of transformational change, the ‘Get fit in 4 days’ headlines, and the ‘she made her first million by the age of 25’ stories. BJ Fogg calls it the ‘go big or go home’ mentality. It’s seductive, but rarely realistic. Here’s why…

We believe that with sufficient motivation, we can ‘make it big’. But motivation is fickle, it ebbs and flows. When we come up with that brilliant business idea (or see that brilliant new diet plan) our motivation skyrockets. But that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to maintain that motivation day after day.

BJ Fogg believes that motivation is the last thing we should rely on when planning change in our lives.

And tiny, incremental change isn’t newsworthy, and it isn’t easy to sell. But it works.

The Maui Habit – here’s why it works

The Maui Habit works for three reasons, what BJ Fogg calls the ‘anatomy’ of a tiny habit:

  • It is ‘anchored’ in a specific moment (part of your existing routine)
  • It is super easy to do
  • It feels good

This last point is critical. The habit is not complete until you’ve added a smile and taken a moment to celebrate your first achievement of the day!

For more on tiny habits and why they work, and an introduction to the Fogg Behavioral Model, look at BJ Fogg’s site:

How tiny changes can make all the difference

Dream big.

Then take your aspirations and break them down into tiny habits.

Start with those tiny habits. Do more when you want to, but always remember that the tiny habit is your goal. That’s when you stop, smile, and congratulate yourself.

The result?

You learn how to change. You start to believe in yourself. Change suddenly becomes enjoyable!

Written by colinwbates
I'm at my best when helping people to learn, grow and be happier. This might be facilitating a training program, coaching a colleague, or sharing advice with my kids. I'm also an introvert by nature, and love to read, reflect and write. Hence this blog! You can also find me on LinkedIn.