Tiny Habits Celebrations Are Fundamental for Change

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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Why is celebrating small successes so important? Why is it more important to feel successful than it is to actually be successful?

In the book Tiny Habits, celebrations are a huge part of making a behavior change. If you’re a Habiteer or even just somebody trying to make a positive change in your life, then don’t downplay the importance of celebrating your tiny successes.

Keep reading to learn why Tiny Habit celebrations are so important.

Tiny Habits Celebrations

We change best when we feel good. But feeling good can be more complicated than you might think. How do we make ourselves feel good about a new habit? In the most challenging cases, how can we cut through the years of negative emotional baggage and “self-trash-talk” that have accumulated around this behavior? The answer is Step 6 in the Behavior Design process: Tiny Habits celebrations.

Celebration is absolutely fundamental in Tiny Habits. Author BJ Fogg writes in this chapter that if a reader takes away one thing from the book, it should be the value of celebrating our tiny successes.

Despite this, many Habiteers (even professional coaches) are inclined to skip it. Some don’t take it seriously because it doesn’t seem important. Others feel self-conscious or silly about celebrating.

Because of this, celebrating is the very first skill you should tackle when starting out with Tiny Habits. Once people implement this step, it changes their whole outlook. Many actually start wanting to do their new habits just so they can celebrate afterwards.

Feel Successful

Celebration is the core of Fogg Behavior Maxim #2: Help people feel successful. Note that this isn’t “Help people be successful.” Actual success, externally measured, isn’t important. It’s the ability to feel successful that we’re aiming for—which for many of us can be even more challenging than achieving external success.

Celebration is important because through celebration we cultivate the important skill of making ourselves feel good. This is important not only when working with new habits, but also in building emotional resilience in the face of challenging life circumstances. 

Above all, celebration is a way to practice being kind to yourself. Many of us could use some extra skills in this area. Celebration helps us defy society’s unrealistic expectations about behavior change and switch to a gentler, more sustainable way of being.

In fact, if you have children or if you spend time caring for someone else’s children, try to cultivate their celebration of small successes wherever you can. Children are naturals at celebration, so this shouldn’t be hard. Building in celebration now will help later on, when social norms start to dampen this natural exuberance. Habiteers consistently say that they wish they’d learned this particular skill earlier, as practicing it has changed their lives in radical ways.

Celebration is only necessary when establishing a habit. After the habit has grown strong roots, you don’t need to keep celebrating—though you certainly can if you want to!

Tiny Habits Celebrations Are Fundamental for Change

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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

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