Webinar presenter Nicole Fredricks Jackson answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Micro-Habits: Navigating the Intersection of Work and Life. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: How long realistically does it take to make a new habit?
Nicole Fredricks Jackson: That is a fantastic question. So, there are all of those articles out there that say it’s 21 days or 60 days, and I think what the beauty is of a tiny habit is you can actually create a habit very quickly. And you could actually make it within, like a couple of days to a week if you incorporate that emotional piece. See, that’s the key piece that has been missing for so long with these habits that we talk about because we forget to instill the emotion. It’s always looking out, right? Like when I? Like, I will feel good when I. And if you feel good right now, in this moment, no matter how tiny that piece, like the habit that you’re starting with, you instill that as a habit. And then what you do, is you add to it, right? So, when I know I’m doing three push-ups, maybe now I add three jumping jacks. And I keep doing those. And you get to that bare minimum, like, that’s your bare minimum that you do in a day, and you celebrate it no matter what. But, if you end up doing 20 that day, celebrate that as well, but always, staying with your baseline and not forcing yourself to go above that. I hope that makes sense.
Audience Question: How long should you do the tiny have it before you move up to something bigger? So, I think you were kind of alluding to that, so could you expand?
Nicole Fredricks Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. So, I would say, first off, you don’t always have to make it bigger, but what you do is that’s your bare minimum because there are days when you’re going to be sick, right? So, there are days when I don’t feel too good. Like, great. Like, maybe, you know, I got the flu, right? It’s possible. I could still do my three push-ups. I use that as an easy example, right? Like, I’m not always doing three push-ups, but I can do that. And I will always celebrate that I did my bare minimum, but it doesn’t mean I have to stay at that, right? Because you end up being like, “Okay, I’m going to do this,” and I end up doing more. And I think about it, when I did my doctoral research, one of the hardest pieces for me there was ultimately, like, sitting down to write. And, this isn’t like, as tiny as maybe it should have been, but I committed, finally, to do 20 minutes of writing a day, because I knew that seemed like nothing, right? Like, Okay, 20 minutes. So, every time, I would sit down for 20, I would actually end up writing for an hour to an hour and a half. But my bare minimum was 20. And it’s ultimately when I instituted that, that moved me into finishing my dissertation within three months, which had taken me over a year and a half to even really get, like, moving along on. But, yeah, so you can instill that habit and get it moving along quickly. And then you keep adding to it. Like, and I would say adding to it. Like, so if I’m looking at the walk habit, for example, right? I start with putting on my shoes every morning once that’s a habit, then I make add the habit of walking outside every morning. And once that’s a habit, I institute the habit of walking to my mailbox. And then once that’s habit, I start instituting the habit of walking around the block or even taking the full mile, and so that’s how I would say it works.
Audience Question: If we are struggling in all aspects of life, what area do you think is the best area of life to start doing a tiny habit for?
Nicole Fredricks Jackson: I wish that wasn’t the case because I know I’ve been there and it’s one of those hardest pieces, because it all feels so overwhelming. And I would say the tiny habits to start with are those pieces of gratitude. And trying to find the one, like one habit that has been super helpful, as well for me, is even at the end of the day, like, maybe the day was a crap show, right? Like, it didn’t go anything like I planned. But I sit down, and I write out, what’s the one thing that was good about today, right? And sometimes it takes a stretch for me to think of that. But if I can think of that one thing, it re-centers me. And I think as you start to build that piece, it starts to shift your mindset about things. And you ultimately start to look for those things in other aspects of your life. But I would choose one thing that just feels good to instill that positive energy, and then continue to pick habits that continue to grow in those other areas.
Audience Question: The problem I have is, and I don’t know if anybody else has this problem, Jessica, I guarantee you, there are others who do. But all of the realms listed seemed to have a tendency to get entangled, and so it’s hard to locate one small thing. In your experience, is this pretty common for folks?
Nicole Fredricks Jackson: It is so common, and the fact of the matter is that life is entangled, and I think that’s one of the pieces that’s super important to acknowledge. So, when I coach with clients, not just within tiny habits work, but one of the things we start with is really a life assessment and you start to see where they all come together, right? You have all of these realms. And there are pieces that intertwine. And if you do end up, helping, like if you improve your spiritual health or emotional wellness. Ultimately, that can improve how you’re showing up in your career. It can improve how you’re showing up in relationship. So, I think it’s picking one of them, and they start to have that ripple effect. They all have a ripple effect. And so, if you can start that wave in one aspect, you will see changes in other aspects as well, and they do, they’re all very entangled. And that’s why it’s the intersection of work and life. People want to compartmentalize. And the fact of the matter is, is what happens at work impacts our home and what happens at home impacts our work, if I have a fight with my spouse, it impacts how I’m reacting to clients the next day, right? Or it could. And also, if I’m having a really difficult day at work, I’m maybe much shorter with my child. And so, one of the things that I often like, I think, working on the health piece, if I had to choose one, might be my best start, because when I start to walk or do things like that, it creates this like change in how I show up. And it makes me feel a lot better because there’s research that shows just being outside. Even if you didn’t walk, if you just went outside and it took in sunshine, it changes things for you. And there’s so much research they actually had medical. They had prescriptions for that, and there’s research that shows that it actually works. Like just getting outside was one of the most important pieces to, like impacting our emotional and health, our emotional and healthy well-being.
Audience Question: Can you apply this to a team setting? So, the question is, it seems like this is an individualistic tactic or approach. How can I implement or encourage tiny habits among the team that I lead? So, can you translate this from a tiny habit for an individual to a tiny habit for a team?
Nicole Fredricks Jackson: That is a fantastic question, and I haven’t necessarily thought about it that way. But I think I would say the answer is yes, actually, because I still think it’s after we do X, like after we start or after we finish a meeting, we will set the next agenda. Or, you know, I think it depends on what you’re speaking to, right? I think this is more of an individualized, like piece, and I’d be happy to sit down on a 15 minute SOS call if you just reach out, but yes. I mean, I think you have to think about, hat is the behavior you want with the team? What’s the aspiration? What are the behaviors that you want? And start really small. And then think about, how are there places that you can create that like after this? We will do like I will. I will do this to impact my team. I think I know that you could make it work. It’s just really thinking through how you want to apply it.
Audience Question: Can you suggest the sort of prompt one might use in trying to wake up on time and stop hitting the snooze button? She went on to say I think you mentioned counting is that right? So bottom line is how do we quit hitting the snooze button? How do we take a tiny habit to accomplish that?
Nicole Fredricks Jackson: Yeah. So, it was the silliest approach, but it’s one of my favorites. And it’s from Mel Robbins. And I don’t think it’s like, maybe it’s just her. But she has the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method, right? And really, it’s this piece of, when my alarm goes off, I jump out of bed. Right? I’m just, I’m going to get up, right? I’m just going to get up, and you, maybe you’re going to go way back down. But the likelihood of you doing that is small, but it’s really thinking of it as a rocket ship. And, for me, it was actually very impactful because our bedroom was up on the second floor. And I had to walk downstairs to have coffee. So, I would just get up no matter how groggy I was and I would just wander downstairs, it didn’t mean I had to do anything other than sit on the couch. But I just had to shift my location. And so really that was the piece for me that changed the snooze button. And I actually don’t wake up with an alarm any longer, which is weird. I do have two dogs, I mean if you have that caveat. I mean, they’re not going to let me sleep too late because they want food.
Audience Question: To some running for 10 minutes might be a minuscule behavior. Is some of this all relative? What’s tiny to one person might be monumental to somebody else.
Nicole Fredricks Jackson: I would say, yes, I mean, if 10 minutes is truly tiny for you, go for it, because I think you have to… Whether you have a specific method or not. I think it’s important to always adapt this to who you are. And if you’re already a runner, then 10 minutes is no big deal, right? And so do that. And if you’re like, you’re in that, then, yeah, it’s your bare minimum. And, so, yes, I would say, that’s great, but a lot of times, we have to start with new things that aren’t already our habits, right? And so, a lot of, this is relating to, what’s not already or habit. And what is the smallest piece to start instilling that in ourselves, without the judgment that we often have, because often because we didn’t…