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 New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Our willpower is severely limited, and every demand for self-restraint draws from a single source. They will look at their list and blame their lack of willpower when they should be blaming their list and their lack of focus. No one has enough willpower for that list. Sometimes a single willpower challenge will feel like one demand too many.

It is easy to blame their failure on a lack of willpower or motivation because if they had an extraordinary amount of either, they could have powered through, but the real culprit was their poor strategy. Anything that is outside of our comfort zone is going to trigger resistance. We want to shrink the commitment so that we only take a tiny step outside our comfort zone – expanding it slightly. Once our Elephant gets comfortable with that, we can encourage him to take additional steps. Our comfort zone will eventually expand. We always want to have enough willpower to keep our habit alive. Shrinking down our commitment ensures we will always be able to do it. These tiny steps aren’t a finish line, they are a starting line. You can always do more when you are motivated to do so, but don’t rely on motivation. Continue reading Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail


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

MINI HABITS – Shrink the Commitment – Shrink the Resistance

Shrinking our habit commitment reduces our reluctance. This commitment is a floor and not a ceiling. If you feel motivated to do more, that’s great. Willpower is going to get you going. Motivation will determine how far you go. Continue reading MINI HABITS – Shrink the Commitment – Shrink the Resistance


Morning movement puts your body and brain in a good place. It improves your mood for hours. Why not start the day feeling fantastic. Even a mini-workout will elevate your state and build your confidence. I keep a 35-pound kettlebell in my living room, so I can perform a mini-workout whenever I need to re-energize. My standing desk is in our home gym, so I can grab an exercise snack whenever the mood hits me. 

Exercise is one of the few good habits that produce immediate gratification. I usually suggest people begin their fat loss journey with exercise, not because I think it is the most effective at reducing body weight because it isn’t, but because daily exercise is a keystone habit that leads to a whole host of beneficial habits, like eating better, sleeping more, decreased alcohol consumption, and a reduction in smoking. Australian researchers, Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng found that healthy habits lead to significant improvements in a wide range of regulatory behaviors such as less impulsive spending; better dietary habits; decreased alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine consumption; and fewer hours watching TV.[i]  Continue reading EXERCISE IS A KEYSTONE HABIT