August 23, 2022

The Diderot Effect with habits is a game-changer!

I received this super thoughtful message over the weekend.  
It said "I haven't been on your website for a bit but I really love the new format. It definitely has a magical feel."

[Insert blushing face emoji here]

People are so helpful. Also, the people who point out the typos and the broken links and all of the flaws that are still there are helpful too.
It's a work in progress, for sure.

The changes in my website are a result of the
The Diderot Effect applied to habits.  You can read more about the Diderot Effect in the mother of all habits books, Atomic Habits by James Clear

For those of you who don't know - the Diderot Effect is this phenomenon where buying one new things leads to a slew of other purchases. 

We recently got a new couch which lead to a new area rug which lead to new throw pillows which lead to a new blanket, etc, etc.
It happens when you paint a room and then realize all the light switches look really dingy and that the ceiling fan is outdated and the carpet needs cleaning. 
ETC, ETC, ETC.

The Diderot Effect can be a budget buster.  It's a diet-killer (there's never just one potato chip, right?")

That's the Diderot Effect in action.

But.... when applied to good habits, the Diderot Effect is a superpower.
I joined a gym which lead me to run a 10k with the gym members which lead me to a half-marathon all within six months. This is also the Diderot Effect in action. 

The compliment that I got on my website is because last year I had my logo redesigned (for $30!).  This lead to changing all the colors on the website which lead to updating the pages which lead to updating the course platform which leads me to today where I am still updating other things.


Every time I look at the website, I see something else that needs fixing or changing.  Every time I update one thing, it creates a chain reaction of other things that can be improved upon.
And also....I can look back and see that it was a thousand little tweaks over time that got me to this particular piece of feedback.

Use the Diderot Effect as your superpower. 

It's the first domino in a chain of dominos that can give you amazing results.
It's the 1% progress that adds up over time.

Warning:  You are likely to have some regret that pops up once you get started though. Because the results are so great, you are likely to have moments where you wish you had started a long time ago.
You will notice that other people are hundred (or a thousand) dominoes ahead of you.

Use that as motivation, not as grief. 
Look at what others are doing as evidence of what is possible in the future.
Do not let it distract you from what you are working on though.
Be kind to yourself and focus on where you are going instead.

Think about how you can apply the Diderot Effect to something that you've always wanted to do. 
It's pretty magical what can happen when you do.

Journal Exercise On The Diderot Effect For Habits

Think back to a time where you felt successful in a project.  

Can you identify the ONE TINY step that was the catalyst for a string of activity or progress?

Spend a few minutes writing about everything that happened as a result of that one tiny action starting with the phrase,

"It all started with...."

Now, think about something that you want to do, but haven't started yet or haven't made as much progress as  you want.

Write down something that you can do to take the first step (ie, the first domino)
that will get the Diderot Effect started.


*Note...this should be something very small that you can do easily right away.

How did this work for you? 

Let me know if these techniques worked for you by leaving a comment below. 

P.S.  I recently re-opened my business Facebook Page.  If you want to follow me there, that might be fun - it's stuff like this but more often. 🙂

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About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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