A Recipe for Success: Mini-Segment #2, Behavior Management Series

Photo by Kei Scampa on Pexels.com

Why do we so often struggle and procrastinate making changes we know we should make? Building new behaviors into our day can be achieved! We’ve all demonstrated our ability to establish innumerable behaviors, routines and habits over the years. So, what is it that makes us fail?

Often, this is because we haven’t understood the levers of behavior change are not will power and motivation. Behavior is determined by the convergence of Motivation, Ability and a Prompt. (To review the elements and the meaning of the Action Line re-visit Mini-Segment #1 using this LINK: https://wp.me/pd3iuc-Fo )

In Mini-Segment #2 you’ll have the opportunity to gain more knowledge and tools to add new behaviors to your capabilities. We’ll begin with a Recipe — your recipe for success in building new tiny behaviors or habits.

Today’s post will equip you to take the ball and run with it.

A mini-tool called a Recipe comes into play when we want to form a new habit. Following are the ingredients:

  • Anchor Behavior
  • Tiny Habit
  • Celebration

Recipe instructions:

  1. Anchor: An Anchor Behavior is an existing routine or habit that is securely locked into your day; adding a new tiny behavior to an Anchor Behavior helps to set you up for success. The last step of that Anchor behavior can serve as a Prompt for a new tiny behavior. To work well, the new tiny behavior should be a logical addition to the Anchor routine. It should make sense to you to do the new behavior after completing the last action of the chosen Anchor behavior.
  2. New Tiny Behavior: Reduce the behavior to make it tiny. It could be an easy activity that will be part of the new behavior. The key to success is to make it tiny, easy for you to do.
  3. Celebration: An immediate, quick and fun celebration, such as saying “I’m awesome!” or “Yay Me!

Think about all of the routines or habits you do each day. Following are some examples, to help you to think about it.

  1. I have a morning routine, consisting of taking the dog out, feeding the dog, having my coffee, checking my schedule, the weather forecast, e-mail, Facebook and other social media.
  2. I have another routine or habit, of going out for a run. I put on running clothes and running shoes, put on sunscreen, go; return, stretch, drink a large glass of water, and have a snack.
  3. Yet another routine or habit I have is preparing and eating dinner, followed by doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen and programming the coffee maker, to be ready for the next morning.

There’s a special value in having routines or habits that are so well-locked into each day: These can serve you well as Anchor Behaviors for new behaviors you want to do, because the Anchors are a certainty in your day. You can use the last action in an Anchor routine as a Prompt for a new tiny behavior. For this to work, it needs to make sense to you, for the new tiny behavior to be done right after you complete the last action in the Anchor.


I wanted to build a habit of vacuuming the house every week. I had been struggling to get myself to do this weekly. Motivation was there, but it was hard to do because it was so time consuming. I hadn’t been able to find a good time/day to do it consistently. Using the Recipe for Success solved this problem; here’s the story.

  • I broke it down from a whole-house, weekly behavior into two tiny behaviors. I added them one at a time. First, I decided that after I program the coffee maker (the last activity in my kitchen cleaning routine, #3 above) I will clear a floor (for vacuuming) by removing small items and setting up the vacuum cleaner. I decided to do this as a one-time event, to see if I could get myself to do it.

I wrote the recipe on a card:

After I:(Last step in the Anchor Routine)
Program the coffee maker
I will:(Tiny Behavior)
Clear the floor in the home office by removing all small items and set up the vacuum cleaner.
Then I’ll:(Immediate celebration to lock the pleasure of success into my brain)
Jump up and pump my fist in the air and say, “Yay, me!”
Recipe for Success
  • It worked! After I programmed the coffee maker I removed the small items from the floor of the room I wanted to vacuum in the morning, and set up the vacuum cleaner! Then, I cheered and punched the air over my head in celebration.
  • Next, I decided on another one-time tiny behavior and added it to a different Anchor Behavior. After I turn off the computer to complete my morning routine (#1 above), I will vacuum the one room I’d readied the night before.

I wrote the recipe on a card:

After I:(Last step in the Anchor Routine)
Turn off the computer.
I will:(Tiny Behavior)
Vacuum the floor in the home office.
Then I’ll:(Immediate celebration to lock the pleasure of success into my brain)
Jump up and pump my fist in the air and say, “Yay, me!”
Recipe for Success
  • Amazing myself, the next morning I vacuumed! And, I celebrated again! Yay, me! I felt so good about my success I decided to keep both tiny behaviors in place for a week. I wrote new recipe cards and specified the timeframes.
  • I succeeded! The celebrations were indeed joyful! I extended the time period again, decided to keep doing it from now on, and wrote the new recipe cards.

I’ve been doing these tiny behaviors for over a year, automatically.

Now, it’s your turn! Is there a behavior — something you already know how to do, but that you haven’t been able to get yourself to do as a routine or habit? Now’s your chance to make it happen. Will you go for it? Following are the Recipe & Instructions.

Prepare the ingredients for your recipe:

  1. Anchor: Choose the existing routine you want to use as your Anchor. The last step in this routine will be your Prompt to do the Tiny Behavior.
  2. New Tiny Behavior: Reduce the habit to make it tiny. It could be a simple step that will be part of the new behavior. The key to success is to make it tiny, simple and quick to do (like moving small items off the floor so you can vacuum.)
  3. Celebration: An immediate, quick and fun celebration, such as saying “I’m awesome!” or “Yay Me!

Note: Did you know that the immediate celebration causes the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible or generating feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness? It increases our motivation to do the tiny behavior again next time. It’s part of the brain’s reward system, and it helps us to build new behaviors, routines and habits.

Write the recipe on a card:

After I:(Last step in the Anchor Routine)
I will:(Tiny Behavior)
Then I’ll:(Immediate celebration to lock the pleasure of success into my brain)

Consider keeping your recipes in a file or box where they will be in your sight, for instance on the kitchen counter. You might prefer another place, or perhaps you’d like to add a monthly check-sheet to track your success!

To help you retain the recipe steps, following is a video by Brian J. Fogg from YouTube: “Use “after” to create a habit” – BJ Fogg, Ph.D. LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxngufGsdzg

What’s Next?

Between now and Mini-Segment #4, your mission assignment, which I’m confident will be a wonderful success, is to follow this process. Take the ball and run with it! Prepare the ingredients, Write Down Your Recipe, and do it: Anchor, New Tiny Behavior, Immediate Celebration.

Remember, if it turns out the first Tiny Behavior you choose isn’t something you can get yourself to do, that’s ok. Make it tinier — and do it again. And, you’re welcome to contact us for assistance.

Support Strategies

  • Many of us find working with a partner helps us to make changes. If you prefer being part of a team with one or more other people who have a strong desire to make behavior changes, explore the idea of joining forces with a friend or a group. Other people can help hold you accountable as well as join in your celebrations to make the most of your successes.
  • Let others know what you’re doing. Sometimes sharing what you learn can reinforce and strengthen both your knowledge and your motivation.
  • Track your progress using a chart or graph. It’s very satisfying to see your new behaviors being accomplished time after time, in a visual tool.
  • Work on one behavior at a time, and hold off on adding another until you’ve made it either automatic (a behavior you do without even thinking about it – a habit) or a fixed part of your routine. It’s better to take your time and lock in the new behavior than to take on too much change at once, which can cause set-backs and failure.
  • The celebration needs to be immediate upon doing the new behavior, every time, until it’s securely locked in. The joy it causes builds your motivation to continue time after time.
  • Be aware of and manage your self-talk. Thinking poorly of yourself, giving yourself criticism in a non-constructive way and judging yourself negatively contaminates your state of mind. People do much better at making changes and improvements when they are confident and happy.
  • Research, watch videos, listen to podcasts and read high quality material, to learn about behavior change, learning theories and social theories. You’ll not only become very knowledgeable, but you’ll also find your motivation continues to grow and you’ll experience even more satisfaction in your success.

Our next step in the Mini-Segment series will be about building new habits involving behaviors that are new to you — for one time, for a span of time, and from now on.

Our Mini-Segment Series on Behavior is the result of studying and applying Fogg’s work, in addition to that of other sources, combined with our coaching experience. We hope that these creative, new perspectives and tools will be invaluable in helping people to strengthen job performance and achieve their goals.

Please share your comments on this second step in our series on Behavior. Tell us, how do you feel about it?

Sources/Recommended Reading:

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