Mini Habits – Breaking it Down

Stephen Guise is the founder of Deep Existence, a blog about self-development, and the writer of Mini Habits, a book about his personal philosophy on how to get things done (with research that backs up some of his arguments).

I found the book to be a pretty good starting point for personal development and so without further ado, here’s my take:

Recommended for:

  • People who have a hard time getting started
  • Perfectionists

What I Got Out of It:

A Little Bit Everyday

Mini habits is about building something without depending on motivation or emotions to fuel you. You do this by setting a low bar (and Guise means really low…like ‘stupid’ low; his famous example being the 1 push-up a day challenge) and working on completing at least that amount of work every single day. You can use your emotions to help you get things done faster once you’ve started (e.g., 50 push-ups), but only if it doesn’t stop you from completing your mini habit everyday. In a mini habit world, consistency has precedence over intensity.

What that means is: feel free to let yourself go and wildly exceed your minimum daily requirement, completely hitting it out of the park….only if you will come back the next day and complete at least the minimum again (and the day after that, and the day after that, etc.).

I think this helps ensure:

  1. You stay familiar with the work, so your brain has less of a resistence coming back to it since it’s not completely new to you.
  2. You’re making progress everyday, so your brain has something to work off and is more likely to get another dose of motivation that allows the process to speed up.

Your mind will have more of a chance getting excited about something it’s been exposed to for a long period of time and has grown comfortable with. Exposure with low expectations help build competence, which in turn, builds confidence. Which allows your motivation to soar, because it feels safe to do so.

Other Interesting Bits

Things I loved but won’t go into detail about because I do think this book is worth getting:

  • Different methods to setting up multiple mini habits.
  • Fun ways to incorporate your habits into your identity (“The Fit Writer”)

LIGHT BULB! moments

Ever notice that bad habits have multiple cues (e.g., checking facebook whenever you’re bored, homeworking, or if you have an office job, while working), yet when we try to set up a good habit, we try to attach it to just one cue?  Mini habits can be linked to a time, activity or remain free floating by having the deadline of…wait for it…*drumroll*…any time before you sleep. This gives you the freedom to get it done whenever you can throughout the day, allowing you to link the habit to multiple activities & time slots.

Another insight (Yay! Two in one book!): if you’re still experiencing resistance, you haven’t broken it down enough. Think ‘stupid small’ steps. If it feels silly to you, then you’ve probably hit the mark.

Hope the summary (and the book) helps! Good luck!

Can you think of something stupidly small that you can do today to put towards your goals/dreams? 


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