I recently ran across the work of BJ Fogg, a researcher on “persuasive technology” at Stanford. He’s got a week-long program called Tiny Habits that you can sign up for online. Basically, the idea, as reviewed in this O Magazine article, is to learn to make changes by attaching new desired behaviors to current behaviors, and keeping each step small (for Tiny Habits, it’s supposed to be something that takes you less than 30 seconds to do). The week that I did the Tiny Habits program was the week before Christmas, and I didn’t get anything near 100%, but it was still really interesting. I found it really useful to think through what current habits are good to attach new behaviors to, and how a very small change can really help reframe how you think about an issue.
I’ve learned so far in my life that making grand resolutions is useless unless I make structures to make my behavior change easier. I think that’s the lesson that I got from Tiny Habits and the other reading I’ve done about motivation and behavior – a lot of the time emotional resistance is the issue, not any kind of practical logistics. And the rest of the time it’s simply remembering that you need to do something, and remembering at the right time and not the wrong one. It’s not (primarily) a problem of lacking moral fiber; it’s mostly a structural problem.
Anyway, all this navel-gazing is in service of thinking about the sewing goals I have for the next year. I don’t want to make a list of grandiose goals that I likely won’t meet (I do have a life and priorities other than sewing, sadly, and this is a hobby after all). But what I really want to do, what’s at the base of my goals, is to sew more and enjoy the process of sewing and being creative. So I’m making one resolution, or new ‘tiny habit’, for the new year: each time I bring in the mail, I will go to my sewing area and do one thing. Maybe it will be putting something away in its proper place, maybe it will be sewing one seam, maybe it will be just looking at my fabrics or a minute or planning my next step on a project and making a note about it. This is a) anchored to something I do every day, bringing in the mail (well, not on Sundays, but Sundays are already the day that I sew the most, because I have more free time) and b) something that doesn’t require a big time commitment (although if I have the time I can spend more time if I want).
So that is my big goal for 2013: spending a tiny bit of time in my sewing room every day!
I wish for all of you a joyous and creative start to the new year.