A few months ago I was working on trying to develop some good habits (eat balanced meals, exercise regularly, and writing to name a few) and I was doing some research into habit formation and stumbled across the article How You Can Use The Power of Celebration to Make New Habits Stick by BJ Fogg who is described by as “PhD, is the founder and director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford. In addition to his research, he teaches boot camps in Behavior Design for industry innovators and also leads the Tiny Habits Academy helping people around the world.”
This article presented three scenarios in an attempt to find the micro-celebration you would do in these instances. The scenarios were: getting your dream job, making the coveting recycling or trash bin basket from across the room, and your favorite sports team won a championship game. How would you react in these instances? How you would react to these events is the perfect way to celebrate small wins, according to Fogg, and celebrating small wins gives you the emotional rush to help make a habit feel good right away instead of waiting for the rewards to come.
As pointed out in most habit research, and you’ve probably experienced it yourself, bad habits feel good in the moment and take time to have negative effects whereas good habits feel difficult in the moment and take time to have positive effects. Fogg points out that these little celebrations build positive emotional connections between habits that might take a little while to show positive effects.
I proposed this question to a few of my girlfriends and asked what would be their response to any of these scenarios? And we settled on “fuck yeah!” as our celebration in the moment. This is the mantra we use to celebrate doing the things we know are good for us and will be important in the long run but maybe things we don’t REALLY want to do now. Every once and a while one of us will send a message along the lines: “Fuck yeah! I folded the laundry!” or “Fuck yeah! I took the trash out!”
By celebrating these small wins with each other we’ve been able to make the necessary evil of habit formation a little bit easier when it comes to some things. My friend even made a set of planner stickers for our celebrations which she has for purchase in her Etsy shop (no I don’t get a commission).
By celebrating the “fuck yeahs” in our day to day life it helps us use the power of positive emotional association to allow us to create habits that are helpful for getting things done. By working on building good habits a little bit at a time you’ll be a whole lot farther along your journey than if you go crazy for a month and then can’t sustain it.
I have found that by incorporating the “fuck yeahs” into my daily routine it helps me move the needle a little further along to where I want to be. By nudging the needle just a little bit along the continuum from the habit I want to break to the habit I want to build I take small sustainable steps towards the lifestyle I want versus the lifestyle I fall into because it’s easier.
Making time for these micro celebrations, even just to yourself, will help build the neural pathways needed for success. Sometimes we can’t wait months for the weight to drop off or the readership to grow, we need the little immediate wins to propel us forward.
By creating our own celebration ritual we create the conditions for feeling those immediate wins just by celebrating that we DID IT, whatever “it” may be. It may have been sending the email to a client/boss you are dreading to send or exercising for 15 minutes when you felt like you had no time. It could be taking a walk on your lunch break or just not working during your lunch break. Whatever positive habit you’re trying to build will benefit from micro celebrations. Mine is “fuck yeah!” and sometimes raising my arms in the air like my team just scored.
What could your micro celebration be? Figure it out and start implementing it ASAP.