A lot of people will scoff at the effectiveness of a mini five-minute workout, but it is infinitely better than doing nothing at all, and if it develops into a habit, you have got something that matters — habits, big or small, matter. Every time you exercise, you are reinforcing the habit and casting another vote for a person who exercises regularly. Every workout is another small win that will contribute to your self-esteem. The reason habits matter should be obvious. Habits are behaviors we perform every day.
If you read for five minutes each day, you would read approximately ten books a year. That is more than double the median number of the books the average American read last year. That is ten more books than the 27% of Americans who admitted to not reading a single book in the past year.[i] Assuming you were never motivated to read more than five minutes each day, in ten years, you would still have read 100 books and amassed a small library. Every time you looked at your library, you could take pride in the knowledge that you have read all the books in it – and all it took was a five-minute a day commitment.
We overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Patience and persistence allow us to accomplish much more than the people always chasing quick results. If more people exercised patience and perseverance, they would realize how powerful habits are. “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” Tony Robbins
It is a shame more people don’t read. Reading is a superpower because if you can read, you can solve almost any problem. One book can change your life and save years of frustration. So why do you think people don’t read more? Nearly all of us know how to read, so it isn’t a lack of ability. You might say people that are non-readers are intellectually lazy, lack curiosity, or prefer watching videos because it requires no effort to digest. I respectfully disagree. Everyone has something they want to learn more about, and books are still the best way to learn about any subject. I think mental exhaustion stops most people from reading more.
We are all a little lazy, but we often attribute laziness to inaction, when subjective fatigue is to blame. Non-readers don’t read because they evaluate the time commitment involved with finishing the book and quickly become overwhelmed. They convince themselves they will never have enough time to finish it, so they never start. “The bigger the change you’re suggesting, the more it will sap people’s self-control. And when people exhaust their self-control, what they’re exhausting are the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus, to inhibit their impulses, and to persist in the face of frustration or failure. In other words, they’re exhausting precisely the mental muscles needed to make a big change. So, when you hear people say that change is hard because people are lazy or resistant, that’s just flat wrong. In fact, the opposite is true: Change is hard because people wear themselves out. And that’s the second surprise about change: What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.” Chip Heath[ii]
When we keep our daily commitment small, we avoid subjective fatigue. Mini habits allow you to get started without feeling exhausted. Once you start, you’ll usually exceed your mini habit commitment, but even if you don’t, you’ll keep the habit alive and you’ll keep making progress every day. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking mini habits won’t make a difference. Small doesn’t remain small for long when it is done daily. That is the power of habit.
[i] Erin Blakemore, 27 Percent of U.S. Adults Didn’t Read a Single Book Last YearSMITHSONIANMAG.COM, OCTOBER 23, 2015.
[ii] Chip Heath, and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Crown Business; 1st edition (February 16, 2010).a\
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