The Magic of Mini Habits

Mini habits are designed to be ridiculously easy. Its creator recognizes that Newton’s First Law applies to psychology as much as it does to physics. Newton’s First Law, sometimes referred to as the Law of Inertia states, an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force. We resist new behaviors the way an object resists a change in state. Our existing routines flow, they have momentum on their side. The biggest disadvantage that a new habit has it that inertia is working against it. Fortunately, mini habits are so easy to do that they don’t require much energy to overcome inertia. The willpower cost of mini habits is almost non-existent. A mini habit is the smallest of nudges – but that slight shove is all that is needed to put Newton’s First Law in our corner. Momentum becomes our ally instead of our enemy. We go from unstartable to unstoppable.  

Mini habits are so small that our mind doesn’t put up any resistance to starting. Once in motion, we can do as much or as little as we want. Since the behavior is something we are motivated to develop, chances are we’ll want to do more than the minimum. Mini habits are unambitious by design. Ambition, like perfectionism, is the enemy of progress. When we are too ambitious, we’ll often do nothing – like the person afraid to make a mistake. We will convince ourselves that if we cannot do everything, we won’t do anything. We will pick back up tomorrow. We always think tomorrow we will have more time, willpower, and motivation.  Good is not the enemy. Inaction is.  Continue reading The Magic of Mini Habits

WHY WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO BAD HABITS

The nature of bad habits makes them irresistible to our basal ganglia, where all habits live. Our primitive brain is a sucker for a quick payoff.
Why do we allow bad habits to happen? When we are stress or not paying attention, our subconscious mind will choose bad habits over good ones. Every bad habit provides an immediate benefit. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t repeat them. When we are feeling tired and stressed, we are particularly susceptible to them. When our body’s cortisol levels are raised, our mind shifts from a pause-and-plan state to a more impulsive fight-or-flight condition. Our primitive brain takes control and seeks quick satisfaction. Our primitive brain isn’t concerned with abstract ideas or our long-term goals; it is in tune with our body’s sensations. We have one brain but two minds. One is driven by emotions, the other by logic. Which is in charge at any given moment is dependent on our stress levels. Stress triggers a fight-or-flight response that puts our impulsive mind in the driver’s seat. Relaxation, on the other hand, shifts us to a state of pause-and-plan. When you are about to give in to temptation, taking, a few deep breaths has been shown to improve our self-control.  Continue reading WHY WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO BAD HABITS

SMALL COMMITMENTS BIG RESULTS

Small commitments make it much easier to create an unbroken chain of X’s in our habit tracker. Our primitive brain, where habits reside, doesn’t learn through intensity. It learns through regularity. Repetition is the learning language of our basal ganglia. We want to automate good habits, so they become our default. To do this, we must be consistent; that is why small commitments are more effective. Make the habit so small that even on your worse day, you’ll have enough willpower to do it.  Continue reading SMALL COMMITMENTS BIG RESULTS

REVERSE THE 5-MINUTE RULE TO BREAK A BAD HABIT

Even if you decide to give in to the temptation at the end of the five minutes, you have strengthened your willpower and increased your awareness of the behavior. Both benefits will improve your odds of success when the next temptation arises. The worst thing we can do is become overly critical of ourselves because that will lead to stress eating, more about that later.         Continue reading REVERSE THE 5-MINUTE RULE TO BREAK A BAD HABIT

What is a Gateway Habit?

These gateway habits put your day on a positive or negative trajectory. Some gateway habits, like going to bed at a consistent time to get adequate sleep, will shape the day to come. Mastering these moments is crucial. I suggest you keep the initial action as small and easy as possible to execute. Some of these actions can even be automated. You can program your internet router to shut off at a specific time each night to avoid late-night TV. You could also set-up a phone alarm as a primary or secondary reminder to go to bed, so you’ll get at least seven and a half hours of restful sleep each night. Your bedtime ritual can be as simple as putting your phone in its charger, brushing your teeth, and putting your head on the pillow. Continue reading What is a Gateway Habit?