The ONE Thing and Tiny Habits

I actively listen to The ONE Thing podcast by Geoff Woods. At the beginning of an episode, he often mentions this quote by F.M Alexander: “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” 

Several years ago, my cousin Jay Papasan co-wrote a book called The One Thing with Gary Keller, the founder of Keller Williams Realty. I have read The One Thing every year for the past five years and can’t help but see its overlap with the Tiny Habits method by BJ Fogg (a way of creating habits quickly and easily). Gary Keller explains that you have to think big to accomplish great things, but you first have to knock over the first domino (something tiny) to start the domino effect. A minimal action consistently over time will lead to great results. 


Fogg’s Formula

In short, the Tiny Habits method is to start so small that habits are effortless to form. Once a habit has been established, it is easy to add other habits and grow towards your goals and aspirations. For this to work, you have to follow the Tiny Habits formula, which states that for habits to be successful, you need to have three things:

  1. Ability to do the habit
  2. Motivation to do the habit
  3. A good Prompt

As shown in BJ Fogg’s behavior model below:

The Tiny Habits method is NOT about willpower or a certain number of days to establish a habit but rather the habit’s design. In short, if your new habit is easy to do and you have high motivation to do it along with a reliable prompt such as an existing routine, it will be successful. 

The Tiny Habits method says that you should celebrate immediately after doing the habit. Celebrating might sound cheesy, but it works! Something as simple as a fist pump or saying “yes” makes you feel good and will quickly wire the habit into your brain.



When I do [PROMPT], I will do [NEW HABIT], and then I will immediately [CELEBRATE] (to wire the new habit into my brain).

Here is a quick example of a habit that has had an enormous impact on my personal life that only took a few days to stick permanently. 


My Habit

When I [get home from work], I will [put my cell phone in the charging cabinet], and then I will [celebrate] by saying, “now it’s family time!”

Let’s quickly evaluate the habit to see if it meets the criteria to be successful: 

  1. High ability – Yes, it is easy to put my cell phone in the charging cabinet 
  2. High motivation – Yes, I need to spend intentional time with my wife and kids as soon as I get home from work.
  3. Good Prompt – Yes, as soon as I get home from work and walk through the door, I am reminded to do this habit. 
  4. Celebrating – Yes! Saying “now it’s family time” makes me feel good and helps solidify the habit, essentially wiring it into my brain. 


Learn More:

There is an excellent episode on The ONE Thing podcast where Geoff Woods interviews BJ Fogg of Tiny Habits: