To start with, we’ll explore how to develop mini habits. A mini habit is a very small positive behavior that you can easily do every day.
“A mini habit is too small to fail and nature makes it weightless. It’s deceptively powerful and a superior habit building strategy.” – Stephen Guise from Mini Habits.
“Mini habits are a pretty simple brain trick at the core, but also a life philosophy that values starting, letting action precede motivation and believing that small steps can accumulate into giant leaps forward.” – Stephen Guise from Mini Habits.
To begin implementing this idea, you want to decide on your big goal and then break down that big goal into very small steps. After that, start thinking about how to take at least one of those small goal steps and make it really crazy small, almost absurd.
The examples that Stephen Guise uses is he wanted to exercise. His goal was to exercise more and to write more. His first mini habit was doing one push-up in the morning. His second mini habit was to write 50 words. His ultimate goals were to accomplish a complete workout each day and to write 3,000 words a day.
Again, the idea here is that you’re trying to do something that starts building momentum for you. It has to start very small. You want to eliminate the resistance.
Steven Pressfield uses that term as far as talking about writing and other things in life. You have a natural inertia. How do you eliminate that resistance that prevents you from going after the big goal, but would say: “Well, why can’t I do one pushup, or why can’t I write just 50 words by sitting down?”
Stephen Guise talks about taking an existing task you do every day and add this small habit to it. In my case I get up every morning, I shower, brush my teeth, and spend time in meditation. After that, as I get my coffee started, I do some sit-ups. Again, it’s only 10 sit-ups but it’s a start on my goal to exercising more. Because I have that routine of things I already do every day, adding one small thing to it can be very easy.
Another idea is to put together structures or things that will help you build on that mini habit. I’m reminded of a person that I once coached who wanted to get into the habit of running more.
He literally took his running shoes and placed them on the top of the toilet. That was the first place he went in the morning, which effectively got his attention.
A man who wanted to write more left his computer with the word processor program open so that was what he saw first each morning.
A final example is from Jerry Seinfeld. He had a goal of writing one joke a day. For him, that was something he could in fact do, but it took some attention and work. Once he had several days in a row, then he marked them off on a big calendar.
Every day he wrote his one joke, and pretty soon the goal became a challenge not to break the chain. The habit had succeeded over the course of 10 weeks and he wanted to keep it going.
Motivation and Willpower
I’ve found that many researchers say willpower is a limited thing. You have limited willpower on a given day. So, that leads me to suggest that to start a new habit, it may be best to do it early in the day when you have your maximum amount of willpower. During the course of the day, you will have made numerous decisions, all kinds of things that happen, and your natural willpower will have decreased.
Get Your Attention
Thought leader and consultant, Timothy Galway wrote the books: The Inner Game of Work, The Inner Game of Tennis, and The Inner Game of Golf. His key idea was to focus on what are you putting your attention on. Identify the key variable in whatever skill or whatever action you’re trying to do.
Make sure you’re finding ways to hold your attention to that particular key skill. In one example from Tim Galway, he had people watch the rotation of a tennis ball. He also had people sit down every morning and write out the key things they should have their attention on today?
It’s as simple as doing that.
The End Game
The end game is pulling this all together. Strive to reach big goals, but the mini successes are your path forward. Repeated small steps develop mini habits which move you toward your goals.
There is a quote that has been attributed to a variety of people, but it basically says, “We are what we repeatedly do.”
So my question to you is: