Have you ever procrastinated starting a project because you felt overwhelmed? If you have, you’ve been the victim of subjective fatigue. Beginning a task carries the full weight of the commitment. Our mind looks ahead and calculates the work, which causes us to feel exhausted before we can start. What we think is laziness is often exhaustion. Mini habits are so silly small that they are nearly weightless. Mini habits kill procrastination. They carry almost no subjective fatigue.
Another cognitive bias that acts as an obstacle to starting is called the spotlight effect. Whenever we step outside our comfort zone, our mind magnifies the difficulty of the task. Like subjective fatigue, it causes us to feel overwhelmed. Mini habits don’t raise any cognitive red flags because they are so easy to do. Mini habits circumnavigate these mental roadblocks to starting. Once we begin, we can base our decision to continue on the task’s actual difficulty – not a distorted version of it. As we develop the habit, our perceived difficulty will diminish, not because it has gotten easier, but because we have gotten better. Continue reading MINI HABITS REDUCE OUR NATURAL RESISTANCE TO CHANGE
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
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
Did you know that you can influence the spirit of your day during the first few minutes after waking? During those first 20minutes, your mind is transitioning from the low 47 cycles per second (Hz) your brain operates during light sleep to the higher, 1230 Hz that is your normal waking state of consciousness. In this state, your subconscious mind is most impressionable. Have you noticed that how your day begins tends to carry over into the rest of your day? This simple habit has dramatically increased my percentage of good days. Continue reading A Simple Habit that will Influence the Spirit of Your Day
One of the greatest dancers and choreographers of the modern era, Twyla Tharp, has spent decades performing to the delight of audiences around the world. She attributes her phenomenal longevity to one simple daily habit. “I begin each day of my life with a ritual,” she writes. “I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirt, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go, I have completed the ritual. It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habituates it—makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.”[i] Instead of focusing on the two-hour workout, she shrinks the commitment to getting into the cab. Once she is in the cab, this gateway habit shapes her next two hours. Continue reading Shink the Commitment – Build a Habit