Mini-Habits

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“In the universe, great acts are made up of small deeds.”

– from the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Mini-habits are really, really small shifts in behavior.

Shifts so small that you don’t even think about them.

They are really, really small changes that can add up to big results.

One more splash of cream in your coffee adds up over the years. Believe me, I know.

The good news is that you can make this theory work in your favor.

The key to intentionally creating new successful mini-habits is associating them with a behavior you are already doing. The existing behavior acts as a cue to remind you to do the new mini-habit. BJ Fogg, who is a Stanford professor and expert in behavior change, recommends framing your new mini-habit as an “After…, I will…” statement to make sure you have created a really solid cue.

Here are 5 mini-habits I will be integrating into my routine in the new year.

1) After I grab the yellow gloves to wash dishes, I will slather on hand cream.

2) After I wash my hands, I will do 1 squat.

3) After I brush my teeth, I will drink 1 glass of water.

4) After I stop at a traffic light, I will do 1 Kegel.

5) After I start to prepare dinner, I will cut up and snack on a vegetable.

The goal of mini-habits is to create a new routine that you don’t have to think about. Like putting on your seat belt after you get in the car. Like brushing your teeth after breakfast. Like having a glass of wine at the end of the day. Except better for you.

Of course, doing 1 Kegel and 1 squat will not make a big difference immediately, but I don’t do any right now. As in, none. At all. So something is better than nothing, right?

I know what to do to get in shape – but I don’t do it because it seems like a big project.

The theory of creating mini-habits is that doing just 1 of something is quick and easy and will create a new unconscious routine. After I have become accustomed to doing just 1 Kegel or 1 squat, it will be much easier for me to do 2 Kegels and 2 squats, and then 4 Kegels and 4 squats. And so on.

The goal is to do just 1 – consistently.

And to celebrate my success! (yay, I am soooo awesome for doing 1 squat! go me!!!)

Doing more is just gravy.

Doing 1 small thing differently is the gateway to change and creating momentum.

Mini-habits are the slow and steady way to attack big resolutions like “get in shape.”

Are you thinking of making some new year’s resolutions today?

Here is some great advice on making resolutions.

What are your goals for 2015? Could you break them into mini-habits?

Here are some ideas for mini-habits that could help you reach your goals.

Let me know in a comment if you have any more ideas for mini-habits! Remember the “After I…, I will…” format to help create a solid cue.

If you want some support, here is a link to a free Tiny-Habits Bootcamp, January 5-9, 2015. I am signing up to see how it works – let me know if you do too!

Happy 2015!

All my best,

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8 Comments

  1. Steven Elder says:

    This is the best resolution advice I’ve ever heard Annie! I’m gonna employ the 1 squat after I brush my teeth thing and see how that goes. I’m also gonna stand on one leg WHILE I brush my teeth so as to improve my balance. I don’t want to be one of those “old” people you hear about falling down and breaking a hip. I love having a friend like you who is so wise and takes the time to share it. Thank you and Happy New Year 🙂

    1. annie kip says:

      Oh Steve! I am so glad you came up with the one-legged-teeth-brushing habit – I will have to add it in to mine! Great idea!

  2. Rita says:

    I love this way of thinking, and the “after___, I will ___” frame is really helpful. Not sure to what use I will put this–so many things could be improved with a new mini-habit. Maybe, “After I let the dogs out, I will do some yoga stretches.” Can’t wait to hear how this works for you.

    1. annie kip says:

      Let me know how it goes, Rita. I am having success with just one squat after washing my hands. Most of the time, I do 2 or 3, but knowing I only have to do one somehow makes it easier to start. Still working on the “After I start making dinner, I will cut up and snack on a vegetable” – I think it is not small and specific enough.

  3. Erica says:

    Yay, Annie! Happy New Year!

    1. annie kip says:

      Happy new year to you too! Trying to make 2015 a good one!

  4. Ingrid Goldbloom says:

    Thank you Annie for this GREAT POST!
    Your examples were very helpful.
    Happy 2015!

    1. annie kip says:

      Thanks, Ingrid. And don’t stop washing your hands to avoid squats!!!!

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