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January 2019 – New Year’s Resolutions and the Power of Tiny Habits

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    • #5349

      Anne Hendler

        Happy New Year!

      • #5381

        Steven Herder

          Looking forward to many great conversations and collaborations in 2019!

        • #5384

          “Dr. Fogg’s research tells us that the gap between our goals and our actions is the sweet spot for change. According to Fogg, there are 2 easy ways to achieve long-term behavioral shifts: 1) Change your environment, or 2) Create new habits.

          “Tiny Habits” suggests that we don’t have to get all balled up in taking enormous actions in order to achieve our goals. Instead, Fogg recommends small, but measurable shifts that, one by one, build up to our bigger goals over time. This thinking doesn’t rely on the traditional methods we tend to tap into (think will-power, unrealistic goal setting, guilt, etc.). Fogg claims, “Tiny Habits limbo under the bar of low motivation.” Imagine the ability to effectively and sustainably shift your habits with skill and practice and without guilt or temporary motivation.”

          The Power Of Small Tweaks And Tiny Habits

        • #5398

          Anne Hendler

            That’s an interesting article. Doesn’t it sound a little too easy, though? Have you tried it yet?
            I’ve been trying an experiment this year. I had two new years resolutions that were just to change small habits. Neither were very well-thought-out. I just wanted to see if I can. So the two things are taking a shower at night instead of in the morning (working so far) and turning off my phone before bed (not working at all). I heard somewhere that you have to do something for a month before it becomes a habit, so the latter resolution is not hopeless for quite a while.
            What are tiny habits in teaching that we can change or implement?
            I think it would be important to record what is going on before we make a change, record the implementation of the new habit, and record what has changed about a month after to have a record.

          • #5406

            Changing environments and/or forming new habits have probably been the main factors for me to effect long-term behavioural shifts, although I haven’t always been successful, of course.

            Like yourself, switching off my mobile at night hasn’t happened yet, despite all good intentions to have a 2200 cut off. My start was sporadic with only limited success before I fell back into my previous habit of working late to keep up with deadline, which fits both with my nature of being a night owl and my environment (since I can concentrate better and don’t get interrupted once the kids are asleep!). However, the issue of being sleep-deprived remains and, to be honest, I’d forgotten about the goal until now!

            But, if I look back on the little success I initially had, a couple of things did help. First, setting an alarm at 10pm reminded me to turn of my phone, which worked until I admittedly started ignoring it – initially to finish work but later to have some R&R. Then I got rid of the alarm and subsequently forgot completely over a couple of weeks. (I could have set the phone to switch itself off but due to circumstances, choose keep my phone on to be reachable in an emergency 24/7.) So, what do I learn from this? Perhaps 10pm was too ambitious initially and I should have made the goal smaller and more realistic, so I will try again from tonight – 11pm!

            Secondly, and rather echoing what you’ve written about keeping a record, I might have been more successful had I tried tracking my progress to keep me motivated. In retrospect, this worked well when I started my MA TESOL back in 2006. At that time, I needed to find 20-hours study time a week on top of 35 hours of work + commutes. So I broke it down into manageable amounts and did 2-5 hours a day, recording it on a giant wall calendar I would see every evening. When I made my 20 hours each week, or exceeded it, I’d know I’d earned my time off. Only occasionally, I’d take time off in advance for a special occasion, but set it up so Sat night or Sun gave me a break. By the time I had done this for a year or so, perhaps I didn’t really need to keep a record anymore as my new routine and habit had been cemented, but it was somehow satisfying to keep count so I did.

            One other teaching habit I managed to implement was to write a journal. For someone who had never been able to keep a diary for more than a week, this initially felt like it would be a major challenge. However, to my surprise and despite the challenges, I ended up enjoying it! Whenever I didn’t feel like doing it, I pushed those thoughts and feelings out of my head and stuck to the “Just Do It!” mentality I would use when training for sports as a kid. In the end, I’d feel much better that I had done it than given up before starting. The other thing was that my teaching & learning journal had a clear purpose that motivated me, as opposed to writing a diary that I never really found time or had the inclination to read again.

            Lastly, with some of the last classes I taught (and as I’ve shared previously in The Teachers Room), I’d introduce motivational strategies and teach my students some motivational chants at the beginning of the year and have them adapt them in teams. Although I hadn’t come across “Tiny Habits”, the focus was the same:

            “We’re getting better, little by little!
            We’re getting _____, step by step!
            We’re ________ week by week!
            One day at a time!”

          • #5440

            Anne Hendler

              Trying again to post here what I already sent you by email.
              The idea (which came from Matthew Noble on Twitter) was to create a “have done” list rather than a “to do” list. Doing so helped me get started doing some of the things that needed to get done. There was also the fringe benefit of having a record of how much I actually do on a given day.
              Hope this works.

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