How many times have you tried and failed to implement a positive habit in your life? The key is to make the habit so laughably easy it’s impossible to fail.
Ask anyone, and they’ll agree–it’s difficult to create a good new habit that actually sticks. It seems self-motivation doesn’t work and our will power quickly evaporates. Something in the inner self seems to say, “nope, not gonna do that.” Repeatedly our well-planned objectives seem to slip away as the year goes on. It starts strong, but one-by-one the priorities stack up and we move on with life, leaving our good intentions to trail behind.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” explains Stephen Guise in the book Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. “You can succeed without the guilt, intimidation, and repeated failure associated with such strategies as “getting motivated,” New Year’s Resolutions, or even “just doing it.” He continues to explain, “These strategies don’t work because they require you to fight against your subconscious brain. It’s only when you start playing by your brain’s rules–as Mini Habits shows you how to do–that you can achieve lasting change.”
Here’s the quick science lesson. Doing the same thing repetitiously for a long time creates neural pathways, kind of like water forming a riverbed. Once the riverbed is formed, water that enters it will always flow along that path because it requires no energy. If you wanted to make a new river bed, you would need to direct the water somewhere else and let it wear the rock away again—or dig one out yourself. Unfortunately, there’s no way to directly build a new neural pathway. We have to do it slowly, until that new pathway is the easiest route our mind can take.
To play by your brain’s rules, the book provides an astonishingly simple and practical approach. It can work even if you are part of the vast majority of people who cannot, for the life of you, keep New Year’s resolutions—and that includes about 99.9% of us.
So what is a mini habit? In Guise’s words, “it’s a stupidly small habit that you “decide” to practice every day. It is so small that minuscule willpower is required to make it happen. So little willpower and time are needed that the lazy, frightened subconscious part of your brain has no reason to bother resisting.”
The result is that a mini habit can sneak in under the subconscious resistance that has been holding you back all your life. Eventually you will start developing the perseverance, momentum, and enthusiasm it takes for big permanent changes. Stop trying so hard and let mini habits work their repetitive magic on their own.
After a while your mini habit will automatically lead you to bigger habits, so strong that will power and motivation are no longer even necessary. You’ll just do your new habit without emotion like you do other habits good or bad. And, if something goes wrong, you always have your mini habit to fall back on.
You can create good new habits in any area of your life; and with one mini habit at a time, it’s easier than you think. When you set the bar so low, you allow yourself to start and succeed.
How To Change Your Life
Mini Habits is a strategy to create permanent healthy habits in: exercise, writing, reading, thinking positively, meditating, drinking water, eating healthy foods, etc.
First, you choose a desired habit you’d like to make—for example, it could be working out for 30 minutes a day, writing 1000 words a day, or reading two books per week.
Next, you shrink these habits down until they are “stupid small,” a term Guise made up because, “when you say the requirement out loud, it is so insignificant it sounds stupid.” It works because your brain falls for the bait—“Oh, only one push up? I can do that.”
And then you start.
Ten Daily Mini Habit Ideas
1. Compliment one person
2. Think two positive thoughts
3. Meditate for one minute
4. Name three things you’re thankful for
5. Do one push-up
6. Write 50 words
7. Read two pages
8. Do ten jumping jacks
9. Go outside and take 100 steps
10. Drink one glass of water