“The man who moves a mountain begins carrying away small stones.” – Confucius
This is a great quote for anyone that is trying to do big things in their life and tries to do too much or is trying to do too many things at once. My wife and I had a quick chat yesterday, and she is focused on two things and nothing else. The first is a bodybuilding competition she’s headed to in 6 days; the second is a test she has to take for a teaching credential. The rest of her day is eating, maintenance, errands, and sleep. She knows that focus and consistency are important when accomplishing one’s goals. She also knows that you can’t do everything. You have to decide and execute.
Learning how to make a choice and sticking with something has always been a challenge for me. I like variety in my day. I like the spontaneity of the moment. Unfortunately, you can’t get anything meaningful done that way. So I began a search for information on how to get more focused, decisive, and consistent. During my search, I discovered a book called Mini Habits by Steven Guise. He suggests doing something very small each day will build a habit over time. The key is something small, but not too small. For example, Steven’s first Mini habit was doing 1 pushup every day.
I have used mini habits for a good 5 or 6 years now and it works. The trick is not to overwhelm yourself or expect yourself to do more than necessary. You really want to stick with small things until they become habitual. Each of us is unique. The time it takes for you to form a habit may be much shorter than it is for me or someone else. The key is to keep it small, so your mind doesn’t catch on that you are making a change. The mind gets overwhelmed very quickly, when taking on new things. If you try to start too many mini habits at once or your mini habit is too much (like I will write 1000 words today), the mini habit will not take hold.
I have had to learn this lesson more than once. Trust me. The mini habits work because they avoid overwhelming your brain, which will resist change if you hit it with too much. Start small. The key to the mini habit system is consistency. Reading for 10 minutes each day may not seem like a lot, but over a year that is 3650 minutes of reading. It may not seem like a lot, but if you are not reading at all right now, trust me, this is a lot of reading (60 hours).
You can apply mini habits for anything. You can use it for exercise like Steven did, you can use it for reading, writing, learning a language, learning to code, anything. You just have to use a little creativity, carve out a few minutes of your day to do the mini habit, and then track it. I use a repeating to-do list for mine using Google Tasks, but whatever you use, even a wall calendar and a marker will do. Try this out if you are having a hard time starting something you’d like to start working on. Resistance is psychological. It is your brain telling you this is too much. Some folks have very resistant brains, while others do not. It is very individual. Experiment until you find your own sweet spot.
I hope each of you is having a terrific Wednesday!
Until next time…