Tiny Habits Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Tiny Habits shows you the power of applying small changes to your routine to unleash the full power that habits have to make your life better.

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Tiny Habits Summary

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How are your new year’s resolutions going so far? Most of us don’t like hearing this question because it reminds us of the unused gym pass in our wallet. Building good habits is hard!

Regardless if it’s at the beginning of January or another time, we’ve all committed to change only to slip up over time. We’d rather not be overweight, broke, and struggling to keep up with friends, but it’s just not easy to stick with good goals. 

What you really need isn’t just goals but the automatic routine of habits to help you progress. And that’s exactly what B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything will teach you how to do! 

Here are 3 of my favorite principles about making small changes to improve for good:

  1. Starting embarrassingly small is the secret to keep you going through the boring days and beyond to finally reach your goals.
  2. Motivation doesn’t work for long-term growth, you need to tap into the potential of behavior.
  3. To unlock the power of action, connect your habits with prompts that are already in your daily routine.

I’m pumped for this one because it’s the secret you’ve been waiting for to break through the hardest part of working toward your goals! Let’s get right to it!

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Lesson 1: To reach your dreams of becoming your best self, you need to begin with almost embarrassingly small patterns.

I love setting goals and building new habits. For the last 15 years, I’ve set my goals at the beginning of the year. But many times I found myself failing to uphold all of the massive changes I was trying to make. It was hard to understand why. I knew that exercising, sleeping, and reading more were all good for me, but I still couldn’t follow through!

As I eventually found out, I fell for the Information-Action Fallacy: We assume knowing facts will be enough to make us change. The truth is that no matter how much data we have, and no matter how well it motivates us to begin, it’s just never enough to keep us going. 

In the author’s experience, there are three drivers of behavioral change:

  • Epiphanies
  • Environmental Changes
  • Tiny Adjustments to Existing Habits

An epiphany is a sudden revelation, and, like facts, they’re not enough to inspire us in the long-term. The big problem with these is that we can’t control when they come to us. Environmental changes, like getting your friends to come to the gym with you, are also just as uncontrollable.

That’s why tiny habits are so important because we can change them and, if done right, they do last. When you begin small, even so much that it seems strange to you, the change becomes sustainable over the long-term. And when you increase your ability to be consistent, you dramatically improve your chances of success.

Lesson 2: If you want to sustain long-term growth, stop trying to build motivation and instead use the proven power of behavior.

Have you ever taken an online course? I’ve paid for a few myself and I have a hard time finishing them. And I’m not alone: 90% of people who take courses don’t complete them. This is because we overestimate the power of motivation. 

We can do incredible things when we find some inspiration, as I’m sure you’ve experienced. But the biggest problem is that the change that results from motivation is good only for one-time changes. Long-term growth requires something more.

If you want to keep up your good habits over time, you need to persist every day for years. But aspiring to be or do something more is often future-centered instead of focusing on what we can do right now. That’s why you need to utilize the power of behavior because it connects your present abilities with what you want for in the future. 

Let’s take saving money as an example. If you had the dream of saving 6 months’ worth of expenses, you probably can’t just conjure up that money immediately, right? That makes sense because it’s your future goal. But to bridge that gap you would focus on the actions you can take right now to start, like canceling your cable service.

You’ll learn a neat trick to help you see ways to tap into the power of behavior in our next lesson!

Lesson 3: Connect your desired habits to prompts within your daily routine to unleash the power of tiny habits.

Each day you’ve got dozens of automatic responses to what happens to you. Hearing an alarm makes you get up, or feeling hungry leads to eating. These are known as prompts.

So to take advantage of behavior, find a prompt you do already and connect your new habit to that. The author uses going to the bathroom as his prompt to do just two pushups, for example. When he began, it quickly became automatic, and seven years later he does it every day!

The power in prompts is that they already exist in your day. Because you’re not trying to create a new habit from scratch, you don’t have to wait, you can try this immediately and see results. You just need to find yours and begin using them.

Make sure the location of the prompt will let you perform your tiny habit. If you work at home, pushups after the bathroom is perfect. But having an office job would make that more difficult. 

You’ve also got to think about the frequency of your prompt. If it’s something you want to do more often, you’d need one that happens multiple times a day. You can also link these thematically. For example, try using the theme of care to connect watering your plant with drinking a glass of water.

Tiny Habits Review

I really enjoyed Tiny Habits and I think that you will too. At first, it reminded me of Atomic Habits, but this one goes more into the one idea of making the smallest habits possible. This new pattern for building habits can be revolutionary to your efforts to improve your life and I hope you’ll try it out soon!

Who would I recommend the Tiny Habits summary to?

The 43-year-old office worker who is overweight but just can’t seem to build the habit of exercising, the 25-year-old productivity junkie who wants a simple and proven way to set up a system for success, and anyone who is searching for the real way to build habits that stick.

Last Updated on January 5, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.