The key to habit change is taking small steps. Those small steps get the ball rolling. Eventually those small steps become habits and once a habit is formed it usually sticks around for the long-term.
At least that’s what the latest in habit change science says. So in mid-October I tested this theory. Completely healed from a back injury sustained in mid-2010, I decided it was time to get back into running. So I set a modest goal, at first, to get the habit formed: jog for 15 minutes a day for 1 week. That one week turned into two weeks and then three weeks. One non-work day I felt I could run longer, so I did – 30 minutes. Five weeks later I ratcheted up my 15 minutes to 20 minutes a day, with a few longer runs sprinkled in there on non-working days.
It’s been over two months since I began this habit experiment. I am running 20-30 minutes every day now. I’ve only missed one day of running in December. As a consequence of this new running habit, my weight has dropped from 197 pounds to 184 pounds. The habit is officially formed.
The key to my new habit formation success has been setting the bar low – 20 minutes a day. But I’ve noticed that once I get out there I find myself wanting to run longer. Keeping the goal small, 20 minutes each run, is definitely the key to forging this new habit. Big changes start with small steps.