William Liao

August 15, 2021

Getting your feet wet

Anytime you’re about to go into a cold body of water, there’s this idea of getting your feet wet to make the process of adapting to the temperature difference more gradual and graceful.

It’s such a salient and relatable concept that it’s become popular as analogy for handling transitions in any context.

If you want to be a writer, getting your feet wet might be writing a short paragraph or blog post.

If you’re a musician, getting your feet wet might be learning to play a basic chord progression (I V vi IV I, if you know you know)

In his book Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg praises the getting-your-feet wet approach: he suggests starting very small with any kind of new behavior you want to adopt.

The underlying thesis is that gradual behavior change tend to endure, while sudden changes in behavior tend to not last.

Change is hard.

If you want to develop stable adaptations — stable behavior change — do it gradually.

Get your feet wet.

Start small and gradually increase your commitment over time.

In the short run it can be frustrating; in the long run it’ll give you the best chance sustaining the change you’re trying to adopt.