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The Power of Mini Habits

January 9, 2024


The Power of Mini Habits

The Power of Mini Habits!

The Pain Free Way to Create Habits That Will Stick!


Life’s keys to success often seem to hide in plain sight right in front of me. However, they consistently seem to evade me. “How did I miss that all this time”, is a familiar thought. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself when you’ve tried to create a new habit or do new things.


I had an ah-hah moment while reading The Miracle Morning for Writers. The author, Steve Scott, was talking about how to successfully create the habit of writing on a consistent basis. Scott cited a book by Stephen Guise called: Mini Habits - Smaller Habits. Bigger Results. I immediately downloaded this book on Audible and started listening to it, and I’m glad I did.

You see, Guise is the typical person, not unlike you or me. Each year at New Years, he looked back over the previous year and examined what changes were needed for the upcoming year.  A consistent area of need for him was his fitness. So he set his goals for the New Year. He would go to the gym each weekday for a half hour and start the process of getting into shape.


New Year's Resolutions have a 92% Failure Rate


As with most New Years Resolutions, once you set the goal, you’re anxious to hit the ground running, and you do; for at least the first few days. Then the excitement wanes, and you begin to resent the new activity with increasing vigor each day, until you miss a day, then two days, then you stop all together. You’re left with a feeling of defeat and self-guilt. Sound familiar perhaps? What Guise didn’t realize at the time, was New Years Resolutions have a 92% failure rate.


Knowing that he had failed repeatedly with creating this new habit of going to the gym, he took a step back and deconstructed what was occurring, and what he found was really quite fascinating. What he realized was, he was setting overly ambitious goals for himself, and ultimately, setting himself up for failure long-term.


Steve Scott summed it up pretty succinctly in The Miracle Morning for Writers. He writes: “The idea here is to prevent people from setting overly-ambitious goals that are impossible to complete on a daily basis. When a person consistently fails with a daily goal, it’s easy to lose emotional momentum and then give up.”


This is what Guise was doing. It was the expectation he was placing on how much and how long he would do the habit he was trying to create. It was the Ah-Hah moment for him. He decided that he would make his daily goal so obtainable that there was no way he wouldn’t do it. He would set his goal so ridiculously easy, there is no way he could talk himself out of doing it. He would do just one push-up per day; this was his new daily goal. This one push-up goal was quite easy. In fact, it was so easy he was able to consistently do it until the habit was created. You may talk yourself out of going to the gym for a half hour each day, but, you would never concede to not being able to do just one push-up. What was interesting to Guise though, was once in the act of doing that one push-up, he’d often do 10, the next day, 2 sets of 10, until he was then doing abs and before you know it, he was actually doing a full work out, and, he didn’t dread it. It was the mere act of just getting started where he found his ultimate success. Guise actually created the One Push-Up Challenge on Social Media and it blew up. He knew he had a responsibility to write about it so others could have this knowledge.


Consistency is the most important factor for building new habits


What was interesting to me at the time of reading this was I was also struggling with creating a new habit. I go to the gym Monday, Tuesday and Friday of each week and this is a habit, but I knew I needed more cardio. We have this 2-mile loop around our neighborhood and I had devised a plan to ride it 5 times for a total of 10 miles on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It sounded pretty easy I thought. For the first week, it was, truth be told. The second week though, it started becoming a drudgery. By week 3 I was full on dreading it each morning until I talked myself out of it one day, then another and slowly, I wasn’t doing it at all.


All in all, I’m a pretty self-disciplined person and this failure was eating away at me. When I started reading Mini Habits by Stephen Guise, I immediately correlated it back to my own bike riding experience and I knew when I got home, some changes would be made. I would ride the loop just 1 time instead of 5. Anything to get out the door and get moving. The results have been pretty amazing too. I’m averaging 3 times around the loop for a total of 6 miles 3 times per week. That’s 18 miles a week, 72 miles a month. I’ve also tweaked my daily writing goal from 500 words per day to just 50 words per day, five days per week and I’m having increased success there as well. It’s so doable and takes such little time, I do it and as such, don’t carry the internal guilt for not doing it.


Maybe you’re interested in trying this for yourself? Here are five reasons that this strategy can help you with the development of your new habit.


  1. Success leads to more success: Success, breeds more and more success. It increases self-confidence and empowers you. Once you’ve had a 30-day streak of successes, it becomes pretty hard to give yourself permission not to do it. Can you do one push-up per day for 30 days? Give it a try and see for yourself. The push-ups are just an example though. Head over to www.MiniHabits.com, then Ideas and Tools for ideas on mini habits you can adopt for a variety of areas in your life.


  1. You’ll stop guilt tripping yourself: When we fail time and time again, the discouragement alone is defeating and, self-perpetuating. It’s hard to get out from underneath this. When things aren’t going well, you’ve given yourself permission to skip days and maybe stop all together, you end up feeling guilty about not following through and you’re incredibly hard on yourself. This probably sounds familiar too. What you’re doing, is reinforcing a negative attitude towards the new activity you so desperately want to develop a habit around. Set that obtainable goal and set yourself up for success. Stop the daily guilt trip.


  1. You’ll Increase Your Desire: When you set those initial daily goals too lofty, you’ll end up procrastinating with doing the actual work and ultimately, dreading the activity. That’s the habit you’ll create, one of not doing the habit you’re actually trying to form. What you need is the inertia of getting started. Once you’re started, you’ll find your desire automatically increases. As your desire increases, so does your motivation.


  1. You’ll Do More Than You Thought You Would: As we discussed above, getting started is typically the biggest obstacle that prevents us from creating a lasting, beneficial daily habit. Maybe you’re thinking that one push-up won’t do anything for you, or, writing just 50 words per day won’t get you even close to your goal of writing a book. What you’ll find though is interesting. Once you’ve started, you will almost always do more than your planned daily goal. I know this to be true from my own experience. Even if you have a super busy day or something comes up, you’ll at least not dread the activity because your daily goal is completely obtainable.


  1. You’ll Form a New Habit: In the book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, he discusses the, The Habit Loop. The habit loop has 3 parts. 1. The CUE 2. The ROUTINE and 3. The REWARD. Once you have consistently created a habit, Neural Pathways form in your brain and in essence, hard-wire you to complete the activity. Consistency is far more important for building habits then the actual goal. Mini Habits short circuit the 92% failure rate and position you for ultimate success.  For me personally, I have a very detailed morning routine. My CUE to either go to the gym or ride my bike is 6:20am. Each day, my morning starts at 5am. By 6:20am, I’ve completed my 6th activity of my morning routine, which is 20 minutes of self-development reading. The 6:20am CUE launches me into my bike riding or gym ROUTINE, with headphones on, listening to an e-book on Audible or Podcast of some sort. My REWARD is how I feel starting my day off the right way each morning. It really has made a profound difference. Soon, the habit will be formed in stone!


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