The Importance of Starting Small

Getting off on the right foot can be the difference between sustaining a healthy habit or falling back into the bad one

If you’ve been following our series on habits so far, you know they can be tremendously difficult to create and break. For this reason they are often frustrating and daunting when you initially try to establish that new behavior. This then creates a feedback loop of unproductive behavior, it can even make you resent the healthy behavior you’re trying to establish.

To deal with this frustration, it’s often best to break down the behavior into the smallest piece that it can be broken into. For this weeks example, we’ll go back to walking to get your daily physical activity for the day. Instead of trying to walk for an hour, try walking up and down the block. Although it only amounts to five minutes, it’s much easier to do you’re more likely to do the behavior, and enjoy it. It seems intuitive that breaking down a goal into attainable milestones leads to more success, but people often bite off more than they can chew.

When you decide implementing a walk into your daily life is your new healthy habit, it’s easy to jump right into it. You feel good about shooting for a new goal, so you walk for two hours that day, and maybe even the next day too. But this drastic and unsustainable change in behavior causes frustration when you can’t keep it up (more power to you if you can, but it’s only human to slip up).

This is why Dr. BJ Fogg says that focusing on ‘tiny habits’ of incremental change have a dramatic impact on the sustainability of that habit. Breaking up the big goals into ‘tiny habits’ will eventually lead you right to the desired behavior. When it takes less effort to hit a goal, you’re more likely to hit it and therefore more likely to keep it up.

Another critical piece to remember when accomplishing these ‘tiny goals’ is that they must be celebrated! Whenever you walk around the block, acknowledge the significance of that achievement. Just by acknowledging that you’re taking a step towards your larger goal really helps. Know that every large goal that is accomplished is made up of very small goals being achieved, like the one you just did.

In this case we’re talking about creating positive feeling as a reward, but there are also other rewards people can create like telling friend about it, checking it off a to do list, or rewarding yourself by doing something you enjoy Take a moment to reflect and review your progress. Look at the roadmap of the big goal and see how far you’ve come. Whatever it takes to celebrate that small victory will keep you coming back for more. These small victories are driving factors in continued habit building. Starting small, and celebrating the small victories will lead you to the big ones.

Next week’s post will touch on how shaking things up around the house might just be what you needed to spark that healthy habit. Stay tuned!


If a healthy lifestyle is something you believe would benefit your co-workers or employees, don’t hesitate to request Perk Health’s free, four-week fitness challenge. Perk Health believes exercise should engage everybody, from marathoners to parents playing tag with their kids.

For more information on Perk Health and the free four week fitness challenge, check out www.getperkhealth.com

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