Book Mini Habits – Smaller Habits, Bigger Results is based on Stephen Guise’s premise that people should form habits so small, those habits can be performed even on your worst day. This creates the consistency necessary to build habits that produce measurable results in the gym and in your life. Small changes lead to big results.
Here are my 10 key takeaways from the book:
- Doing a little bit each day is a lot better than doing a lot on one day. Stephen often cites the example of his famous “one pushup challenge.” Stephen challenged himself to do a single push-up per day, every day. The rationale behind the goal was so small it was impossible not to achieve and it ultimately led to him building a more robust fitness regime and additional life-changing mini habits. Stephen also suggested reading, or in my case, listening to his book a minimum of two minutes a day. The great thing about Stephen’s technique is that you almost always exceed the mini goal. I ended up listening to the book for 15-20 minutes a day and even hit the 30 minute mark on a few days.
- Stress increases habitual behaviour for better or worse. This is why so many people gain weight in times of stress. They are reverting back to their habitual behaviours. It is crucial to develop positive habits that you can draw on during turbulent times.
- Stupid small goals have a huge impact on your behaviour. By setting stupid small goals you give yourself a baseline to make progress on days when you lack motivation and willpower. The great part about mini habits is once you get going, you will likely exceed your initial goal.
- The hardest part is getting started. By setting a simple, achievable goal, you eliminate the mental roadblock that can happen on days when you just don’t feel like starting. On most days, once you get started your “golden” mini habits give you the mental energy to hit the continue button.
- Motivation vs willpower. Motivation is an unreliable strategy for change. When your motivation lowers it will require more willpower, and when the willpower cost is too high it is tough to sustain a new habit. If motivation is your strategy, you will have a hard time maintaining new habits.
- Willpower is not unlimited. Decisions drain willpower.That is why good habits are so effective. They allow you to take positive actions during moments of stress and uncertainty.These actions become ingrained into your subconscious behaviour.
- Be happy with all progress. Any progress is good. Let’s say you adopt the mini habit of reading two minutes a day and you are humming along over a period of a week, averaging 20 minutes a day. Inevitably a day will come along where you can’t or won’t read for 20 minutes and you only end up reading for two minutes. The two minutes is still progress, and should be viewed as such. It is essentially the essence of the book – you are maintaining momentum on a day when your progress would have normally halted.
- Reward yourself. This is a crucial step in the mini habit journey. Celebrate your success. It can be something as simple as watching a short comedy clip, or eating something sweet. The sweet fix can be very small and according to Stephen, artificial sweeteners won’t do the trick.
- Willpower is depleted by the perceived difficulty of a task. If you set a goal of reading for 60 minutes a day, this has a high level of perceived difficulty. You will deplete your willpower on days when you lack motivation and you are setting yourself up for failure. By setting your reading goal at two minutes, the perceived difficulty is seen as very small and the drain on willpower is minimal. This will make sure you get started, and the magic happens once you get started.
- Mini habits can help preserve blood glucose levels. Big, daunting goals can be stressful, especially on days when you lack motivation. This increases stress. Mini habits minimize stress because every step you take feels like success. Mini habits are energy efficient!