Positive habits can multiply your results and success. Yet, anyone who has tried to change existing habits or build new habits will know how difficult the process can be. In this book, Stephen Guise presents a strategy of using “mini habits” to overcome your brain’s natural resistance so you can easily add healthy habits to transform your life. A mini habit is a very small version of a positive new habit you want to form. It should be such a tiny step that you’d feel almost stupid doing it. For example, a goal of 50 push-ups a day can be minified to 1 push-up a day; a goal of reading 1 book a week can be minified into reading 1 page (or even 1 paragraph) a day. In this Mini Habits summary we’ll give an overview of why and how mini habits work.
Guise discovered mini habits by chance: he wanted to get fit, but struggled to get himself to start and continue his 30-minute workouts. The turning point came when he convinced himself to do just one push-up. It seemed so effortless that he simply did it without deliberation. When he completed the push-up, he felt so good that he continued with another one pull-up. Guise decided to do 1 push-up a day instead of his 30-minute workouts. He soon found himself achieving this goal consistently, and even ended up doing extra push-ups or even completing 20-30 minutes of workout. The mini habit of 1 push-up a day had helped him to gradually build up his physical and mental strength while cultivating the habit of exercising regularly.
Inspired by his success, Guise started to research about the human brain and habits formation, while testing and refining the mini habits strategy, culminating in this book.
Research found that 45% of our behaviors come from habit, i.e. 45% of our actions are done automatically without conscious thought. Such habits can only be added or removed through repetition over time.
Some highlights or points to note about habits formation:
• To conserve energy/minimize effort, our brains automate things that we’ve repeated many times. Once habits are formed, the brain is slow to change them, so we must influence behaviors before they become habits.
• It’s not true that you’ll form a habit by doing something consecutively for 21 or 30 days. Habit formation can take anywhere from 18-254 days and you cannot predict how long it will take each time.
• To influence behaviors, you need motivation and willpower. For habits formation, willpower is much more reliable (because motivation depends on feelings which are erratic). Unfortunately, willpower depletes with use. So, the crux of the issue is to have a strategy that will allow you to sustain your willpower for habits formation.
• Mini habits are so ridiculously tiny that they bypass your brain’s natural resistance. As you repeat them over time, you start to build confidence, willpower and form habits that set the foundation for bigger actions. [On the other hand, if you set big goals but fail to take action, the guilt and discouragement can reduce your confidence over time] to start new things or to repeat/continue.
In the book and our full 13-page summary we explain each of the ideas above in detail, including (a) how the neural pathways, conscious/subconscious parts of our brains work, (b) how cues/actions lead to habit, (c) the difference between willpower and motivation (and the factors affecting both), (d) why/how mini habits nullify factors that deplete your willpower and turn Newton’s law to your advantage and (e) why mini-habits work much more predictably than other habits programs.
Applying the Mini Habits Strategy
Since mini habits are so small and willpower-efficient, you can add multiple habits concurrently, instead of trying to add 1 mega habit at a time. The Mini Habits strategy is simply about forcing yourself to take 1-4 ridiculously-small strategic actions every day.
Here’s an overview of the 8 steps for applying yur mini habits strategy:In the book and our complete summary we break down the 8 steps into specific details, and also cover the 8 rules you must follow in order for the mini habits strategy to work.
Some highlights of the mini habits strategy:
• How to identify your first 3-4 mini habits, the 3 habits plan you can choose from, and the tips to apply. .
• How to zoom in on the “Why” behind each mini habit and the difference between intrinsic/extrinsic reasons.
• How to identify your habit cues (including time-based vs activity-based cues) and the tips to consider.
• Why you should develop a reward plan and some factors to consider
• Write it down & check it off: why it’s important to put down your progress on paper, and how you can use a wall calendar or digital devices to make this work most effectively.
• What it means to start small and how to deal with “bonus reps”
• Why it’s better to go for consistency, not quantity (and why you must not be ambitious).
• What are the signs of habit formation to look out for to know you can move on to the next mini habits.
Other Details in “Mini Habits”
The strategy above can be used to build any new positive habit, though it has not been tested for breaking bad habits or massive addictions. This is a thin, easy-to-read book with many anecdotes from Guise’s personal experiences and research. Do get a copy of the book for the full details, get our full Mini Habits summary bundle for an overview of the various ideas and tips, or check out more resources at minihabits.com.
Learn this simple strategy to develop ANY new habit for massive results!