Mini Habits

I borrowed Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results from the Kindle library a few weeks ago on a hat tip from Cindy Rollins’ blog before she deleted it.  It was short and free, which were powerful recommendations anyway, but it also spoke to my lazy, little side.  The basic premise is this: meeting big goals is hard, like trying to scale a high wall.  Meeting small goals is easy, like tunneling under the wall.

Also, when Guise says “mini” he means mini.  He found fitness success by building his first mini-habit — doing one push-up a day.  One push-up a day sounds like nothing, but it’s actually more than nothing, according to Guise, because it was such a ridiculously small goal that he could always meet it, and he usually ended up doing much more than one push-up anyway.  But on the days that he only did one push-up, he still felt like a success because he had met his goal.  Since success breeds success, he found it easier and easier to exercise, until he could build up to a “regular” sized goal, like going to the gym three days a week.  And after experiencing such success in fitness with such a small goal, he expanded his “mini habits” to include small habits in writing (50 words a day) and reading (2 pages a day).  The key, he asserts, is to make your goal “stupid small”.

After reading this book, I immediately came up with about fifty different mini habits I could work on, which I think would defeat the purpose.  I think what he says is probably utterly true, at least for many of us and maybe moms especially since we have so little time to work with.   And actually, I know it is true in my own life, because — sticking with fitness as an example — that’s how I exercise as well.  Every morning before I take a shower, I talk myself into at least doing some stretches, and that usually leads into doing 5-10 minutes worth of exercise.  It’s not much — my inner critic is always telling me it’s nothing — but it’s not nothing; it’s over an hour of exercise a week in addition to all the other activity I get as a mom of many.  (According to my Fitbit, I often walk 3-5 miles a day inside my house and yard.  Now, I do have a 5 acre yard, but still — a little ridiculous.)  Anyway, once I fight down the voice in my head that says I’m not doing enough — the voice which would, instead, have me actually do nothing — I can accomplish something, no matter how unimpressive the rest of the world thinks it is.

And something is always better than nothing.

So I’ve had to fight down the impulse to start fifty different mini habits at the same time, thereby condemning myself to overwhelm and doing-nothingness, and I’ve decided to narrow my mini habits down to three that are bugging me the most right now . This could still be the kiss of death (mentioning stuff I’m going to do on my blog is usually the kiss of death, but I’m hopeful), but I can always whittle the list down to one.  It’s just that I can’t prioritize that I’m settling on three anyway.

One is mothering/homeschool related:

Read one board book to the baby every day.

I’m not sure this counts as “stupid small”.  Ridiculously small would probably be, Read one page of a board book to the baby every day.  Which might be better, because it’s more doable.  Plus, who ever reads just one page of a board book?

Next up, some writing goals:

Write 50 words on a blog post every day. 

Write one sentence on a story every day.

Gah.  Those are definitely “stupid small”.  But do the math.  5o words on a blog post every day = 350 words a week = a blog post every week, faithfully.  I can always do more, but it saves me from doing less.

And one sentence on a story a day? Far more output than nothing in a year!

Anybody else want to tackle some mini habits with me?







  1. This sounds great – I haven’t read the book but I already feel overwhelmed (baby number six is 11 weeks old) but I know there are some habits I need to work on. I would like to get to 8000 steps daily on my fitbit. I usually surpass 5000 but don’t regularly get to 10000. I think in-between those numbers would be easily doable. Thanks for the idea/challenge.

  2. I like this idea, although I think I would tend to lean towards what you said above, ” …I fight down the voice in my head that says I’m not doing enough — the voice which would, instead, have me actually do nothing…” Don’t now if I could get past that! Good luck with your new mini-habits!
    Amy recently posted…The Homeschool Styles vs. HSP Series #3: MontessoriMy Profile

    • Yes, that’s exactly why the mini-habit is working a little better for me… although I think 3 was too many. Two seems to be about all I can handle at once. I’m a perfectionist, and it’s so easy to use that fear of not doing something well to not do anything at all. The author of Mini-Habits does talk about going ever smaller in case you have a block. So, for instance, if you’re blocking at exercising at all (he used a lot of fitness examples) maybe you could have a goal of just getting out your mat. (I actually would never exercise if I had to use a mat, but whatever. I have to lock myself in the bathroom before I take a shower and do wall push-ups.) Anyway, I think his point is that no goal is too small if it gets you moving and helps you to create a habit.

  3. I love the idea of mini habits. I can usually get myself to unload the dishwasher like that. I’ll just unload the plates, which is easy because the cupboard they go in is right above the dishwasher. And usually I’ll go on to do something else as well. But at least I’ve unloaded the plates. Or I pick up a few toys as I cross the living room. There may be dozens more, but at least I picked up a few. I definitely do it with blogging: write just a sentence or two and at least I feel I’ve made some progress on the post so it doesn’t feel like a stalled-out post. It feels like a work in progress. It keeps the momentum going.

    I hadn’t thought to apply it to exercise though. I like the one pushup idea. Really much. And I bet it would work well with gardening. Just pull one weed as I walk past the bed.

    I need to remember to do this in other areas. I’d like to do it in sewing. And spiritual reading. And prayer. Just read the antiphons. Just read the day’s Gospel. I don’t have to do it all, just do something.
    Melanie Bettinelli recently posted…Book Review: St Patrick’s Summer: An Adventure CatechismMy Profile

    • Oh, I hadn’t thought of applying it to gardening. That’s a good idea, especially during those times when the weeds have taken over and it’s a million degrees and it’s so overwhelming you don’t even know where to start. (Maybe I am the only person who routinely has those seasons, but I could definitely use a mini-habit jump start at those times!)

  4. Ohh this is inspiring, I should jot down some mini habits too! I’m in!
    Erin recently posted…A Week of Surf & FaithMy Profile

  5. Just awarded you:)
    PS can’t comment on your latest post
    Erin recently posted…7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 206)My Profile


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