Mini Habits

With the New Year’s fast approaching many people are thinking about their new Resolutions… many people are hoping to make some major changes in their lives.

Here is a little non-scientific poll for you to take:

 

Why?  Why do we make these New Year’s resolutions?  Well…. we want to make ourselves better, we strive for improving ourselves.  We want to be the best people we can be….  We want to look good, be healthy, have money, help others, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  It is also tradition and tradition matters.

If you selected anything but “Ain’t nobody got time for that”  in the poll above I want you to answer a new poll:

 

If this works the way I think it will (because it is the way my life works) those of us who make resolutions tend not to keep resolutions.  At least not consistently.

 

So… confession time again… I have been known to pick up the occasional self-help book.  I’m kinda fucked up, I want to be better.  Judge me.  Actually I do enjoy these books because I do get something out of them.  There are a LOT of self help books that are a bunch of BS, but the vast majority contain some little bit of information, some little tip, that I can use in my life.  One of the books I recently picked up was “Mini Habits”  by Stephen Guise.

The concept of this book is pretty simple…. We make big goals, we fail, we start to doubt our abilities, we stop trying, we feel bad about ourselves.  If we swap out those big goals for little tiny goals that are next to impossible to fail we can get out of this neverending spiral down.  We can start making real improvements.

This resonates with me.

I try to make resolutions, I try to get healthy, I try to save more money, I try to do a lot of things and I fail.  I stop trying… Why try if I know deep down it isn’t going to happen.

In the book the example provided over, and over, and over (really… it get brought up a lot) is the Author’s first mini-habit.  He sets the goal of doing one push up every day.  He can choose to do more, but he can never choose to do less.  Well, how frigging easy is it to do one push up every day?  (Or to put on your workout clothes, or to drink one cup of water, or to save $1 a week)  The point is that these are stupid small goals that are almost impossible not to do.  Every day you do this tiny little thing, and every day your confidence builds and builds.  Eventually these mini-habits become full blown habits.

Let’s take my Green Smoothie challenge that I just wrapped up… I ended up failing it because life got in the way and that extra 5-10 minutes really was just too much for me to commit to every day.  Well, making the commitment to purchase spinach or kale or some other green leafy thing once a week is not a big stretch for me.  I am going to the grocery store anyway, if I have all my supplies I am going to end up doing something with them,  I like green smoothies more than I like spinach and kale on their own… there is a pretty simple progression from purchasing greens to having green smoothies.  All of the steps in between are small, totally do-able most days, and if life ends up getting in the way again I have still met my goal by just purchasing some green shit.  Success!

One of the biggest problems I see… Feeling life a failure when you aren’t an overachiever.  I know with my green smoothies I really want to actually drink those things… buying supplies isn’t going to feel like success.  That is a problem, that is part of the reason my resolutions and goals fail.  I’m focused on the endpoint and not all the little steps in between.  Even if I do a stellar job at every little step from the first to the second to last I feel like a failure because that last step didn’t go the way I wanted it to go.  How much sense does that make?

 

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photo credit: “The Monument” by THTStudio licensed under CC BY 4.0