Mini Habits – Stephen Guise
Personal development blogger Stephen Guise offers a self-improvement program that is “too small to fail.”
Forming A Habit
Contrary to common belief, the average time it takes to form a habit is not 21 to 30 days. Studies show it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit. The average person needs 66 days.
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You’ll know when a behaviour becomes a habit when you experience a decrease in resistance. Instead of forcing yourself to meet your one push-up goal, for example, you’ll head to the gym without giving it much thought.
The Problem with Motivation
An inverse relationship connects motivation and willpower.
When your motivation is high and you’re enthusiastic about something, you only need a little willpower to get going.
When the initial buzz wears off or you must face a task you don’t want to do, your need for willpower rises.
When an aspirational activity requires lots of willpower, you’re less likely to stick with it.
Use The Why Drill On Each Mini Habit
Ask yourself why you want to instil a mini habit into your life, and delve deeply into the answer by asking the question more than once.
Make sure that your mini habits align with your values.
Define Your Habit Cues
Habits are either “time-based” or “activity-based.” Identify which cue works for each new mini habit.
Do you want to exercise at a specific time, such as nine every morning, or give yourself more flexibility, such as before dinner? If specific cues tax your willpower, assign yourself general cues, such as completing the mini habit before bedtime.
Create Your Reward Plan
Many habits don’t offer immediate rewards. Sculpting your abs, for example, takes time. Give yourself mini rewards to accompany your mini habits.
For example, allow yourself a 10-minute power nap or watch a fun video as a reward for meeting your mini goal.
Write Everything Down
Writing something down gives it importance. Visually track your mini habit success to reinforce your sense of accomplishment.
Crossing your performance off on a calendar each day gives you a graphic representation of your progress. Several digital apps can help you reinforce your mini habit by tracking your progress.
The advantage of mini habits is that repetition strengthens your willpower. Each task requires just a little willpower to complete and the frequency of repetition forms a habit over time.
Once a habit is in place, you can build on it more easily. That’s why stupid small is powerful.
Meet Your Schedule And Drop High Expectations
While having a positive belief in your capabilities is good, setting your expectations too high can hold you back.
When you’ve exceeded your stupid small goal several days in a row, your expectations will naturally rise. You won’t be content with one push-up when you’ve done 25 every day. Resist the urge to increase the mini goal to match your elevated expectations. Feel good about your accomplishments and focus on consistency.
Watch For Signs of Habit
Several signs will tell you that you’ve developed a positive habit:
You’ll feel less resistance and perform the activity without much thought.
The activity will become less emotional and more routine.
You incorporate it into your identity, such as “I’m a writer” or “I’m a cyclist.”
Eight Mini-Habit Rules
- Never, ever cheat
- Be happy with all progress
- Reward yourself often, especially after a mini habit
- Stay level-headed
- If you feel strong resistance, back off and go smaller
- Remind yourself how easy this is
- Never think a step is too small
- Put extra energy and ambition toward bonus reps, not a bigger requirement.