Celebrating Achievements to Build Tiny Habits

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Tiny Habits" by BJ Fogg. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you trying to incorporate the Tiny Habits Method into your life but struggling with celebrating achievements? Why is it so important to celebrate after performing a tiny habit?

In the process of becoming a Habiteer, you must learn to celebrate achievements, however small. This step can feel awkward or disingenuous to some people so they skip it. However, celebrating is an important part in solidifying habits so here is some information if you’re struggling.

Continue reading for advice on how to genuinely celebrate tiny achievements.

Celebrating Achievements Isn’t Always Easy

Celebrating achievements is incredibly important in Tiny Habits. In fact, celebrating well is a habit in its own right, one that we can cultivate to make us happier, more resilient, and nicer to be around. Experiment to find some celebrations that work for you. Aim for celebrations that make you feel “Shine”: an authentic sense of accomplishment and happiness. Perhaps your best route to Shine is raising your fists in victory, or humming a snatch of the theme song from Rocky, or nodding your head quietly to yourself in affirmation. A genuine celebration immediately after you do your habit helps your brain to encode and automatize the behavior sequence, so it’s important not to skip this step.

If you’re struggling to celebrate authentically, here are some suggestions.

It may be because deep down you don’t feel you deserve to celebrate. Tiny Habits are tiny, after all—why would you celebrate something so trivial? But remember that:

  • Taking a genuine step towards changing your life is not trivial. How many times did you want to make a change and didn’t? Now you’re actually doing it. That’s a big deal.
  • You’re practicing the skill of celebration. As beginners at any skill, it usually feels awkward until we get the hang of it. As you practice more, the awkwardness will fall away.

Think of the big picture. Why is this habit important to you? What big impact could it have on your life? For example, Habiteer Jill was trying and failing to cultivate the habit of wiping her kitchen countertop. To address this, she thought carefully about the potential effects of the habit. It was for the benefit of her husband, who was the family cook and hated starting out with a dirty countertop. Jill noticed that on the days she remembered to wipe the counter, the evening was much more peaceful for the whole family, including her daughter Emma. Jill began to reframe wiping the counter as something she did to foster a harmonious family environment for her daughter and husband. Maintaining this perspective, she was able to clinch the habit.

Increase the granularity of your celebrations. Within each habit, there’s space for not one but three celebrations:

  1. When you remember to do your habit. Remembering is a habit too: a mental one.
  2. While doing the habit. This makes the habit more enjoyable. You could visualize the big-picture effects. For example, while wiping the counter, Jill imagines her husband giving her a kiss and a compliment and the relaxed family dinner they’ll have that night.
  3. After completing the habit. (This is the celebration you’re already familiar with.)

Celebrating After the Habit Is Already Established

After a habit is firmly rooted into your routine, you don’t need to celebrate anymore, but feel free to keep going if you like. Here are some reasons you might choose to continue celebrating after your habit is locked in:

  • If you’ve fallen out of a habit and want to resuscitate it. This might happen if something has disrupted your regular routine, like a vacation.
  • If you’re escalating your habit beyond the tiny version. Let’s say your Tiny Habit is two pushups. When you start to push things and do more pushups, make sure you celebrate with extra intensity. This neutralizes the pain of pushing yourself.
  • Because celebration makes you feel good. Getting into the habit of celebrating success, whether or not it’s tied to a Tiny Habits recipe, will change how you respond to events in your life.
Celebrating Achievements to Build Tiny Habits

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  • How you can successfully create new habits that stick
  • Why you don't need motivation, just science
  • Why even flossing one tooth should be considered a victory

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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