After our trash audit (results here), I noticed something odd, we were still making quite a bit of trash. Food wrappers, bottles, packaging…how could this happen? Didn’t I say I wanted to waste less?! Well, turns out that alone is not enough.
I don’t know about you, but I typically fail when I try to make a big change. I am quite sure I have taken up running every year for the past five years, which has yielded about ten good runs. Behavioral researcher, BJ Fogg (great article here) would say this is because I am designing for the outcome (running), rather than the behaviors that lead to the outcome (putting on workout clothes, gym shoes, grabbing my ipod). Fogg believes that creating many tiny habits that lead towards the desired outcome is the key to lasting behavioral change.
If I only attempt to make as little trash as possible, I will surely fail. However, if I create many tiny habits that can lead me to that goal then I may see a change, and a lasting one at that!
Don’t design for the outcome, design for the behaviors that create the outcome.
Finding an Anchor
Fogg also suggests the importance of when you practice your new tiny habit. For example, after I drink my coffee, I will put on my running shoes, or after I finish the dishes, I will chop food scraps for the compost bin. By attaching your new tiny habit to an existing chain of habits, you can increase the likelihood of solidifying your new habit.
After you complete your tiny habit, it is important to reward yourself! No, this doesn’t mean cake. More like patting yourself on the back, telling yourself “I did it!”, or doing a little happy dance. Positive reinforcement! ☺
Three New Habits
In an attempt to utilize some of these techniques, I have chosen three new tiny habits to practice this month.
Reusable Mug – If we don’t have it, we don’t get any coffee.
Handkerchief – Keeping a handkerchief on hand and several at work; some for hand drying, some for nose blowing.
Composting – Turning food scraps into soil.
I look forward to practicing my reusable mug habit tomorrow morning! Mug, meet cappuccino!