Every day that passes is a chance to move forward or backward, I think we all realize that. But what can be a little less obvious is that today is largely going to be a result of the days before it. A person can theoretically do anything with a new day, but approximately 45% of our behavior is habitual (2006 Duke Study), so it’s unlikely to be drastically different.
This is why life is a game of momentum. The more you move forward, the easier it will be to continue and achieve more. But if you find yourself going backwards, it is no easy task to reverse your course. Or is it? *dun dun dunnn!*
How To Change Your Momentum With Mini Habits
I used to think that changing my life was difficult, and it was. I would get motivated and set a plan to exercise and stick with it. After about 2 weeks, I’d stop. At other times in my life, I would sporadically exercise here and there, but remain far from where I wanted to be.
Then, almost a full year ago (Dec 28th, 2012), I found myself unable to get motivated to exercise (again). But this time, I tried something different. I decided that I had to do one push-up. 30 minutes later, my abs were on fire, my arms were tired, and I had completed a workout. It worked.
From that, I created the One Push-up Challenge and made myself do at least one push-up every day. But whenever I’d do one push-up, I did more. My brain “fell for the bait” every time. Initial resistance would fade once I did the first push-up.
Here I am one year later, and I’m in the best shape of my life (and getting stronger). Now, exercise is easy. Now, momentum is on my side.
How Momentum Change Is Like A Roller Coaster
Think of a roller coaster. In the beginning of the ride you slowly climb higher and higher, until you reach the apex and then… WHOOSH! The coaster speeds down the track until there is another peak it has to climb.
The momentum of the coaster very much resembles our momentum in life. When you first attempt to make a change, it’s like that long and slow uphill climb at the beginning of the ride. It isn’t exciting (but the anticipation can be). It isn’t easy (but with small steps, it isn’t too hard). And once you get over the hump, positive results can rush in seemingly all at once. It was after about a month of consistent weightlifting that I noticed a change in the mirror. Today is five months later, and I see a big change!
Some people seem to expect that they’ll start at the top of the coaster and go at full speed. But nobody starts at the top when trying to change. Right now, your subconscious brain is set in its ways, and it does NOT want to change (for better or worse). The subconscious brain (i.e. the basal ganglia) is designed to be efficient, and the most efficient thing it can do is repeat familiar behaviors that provide a suitable reward.
So what happens when you try to go full speed? Instead of methodically climbing up the track, you attempt to race up the track, and you literally run out of willpower to finish the climb and get over the hump, and you’ll fall back down the track. The hump in life is doing a behavior consistently enough for long enough to form a habit.
Mini Habits Bring Consistent Results In Small Doses
Mini Habits are a guaranteed way to climb the track. Every day, you’ll agree to take one step forward. Some days you’ll decide to do extra. Other days, one step is all you’ll take because you’re tired or busy. But over time, this small step will become a (mini) habit.
Habits are the strongest possible foundation to do more of any behavior. A habit is not just an accepted behavior of the brain, it’s preferred behavior. That’s why this roller coaster analogy is accurate – in the beginning, you are struggling against what your brain would rather do (climbing up), but once the behavior becomes habit, your brain helps you do more (gravity takes over).
That’s why I’m a completely different person today than I was just one year ago. I started so small, and it was all my willpower could muster. But slowly and surely, I’ve changed my brain’s preferred behaviors. In addition to consistent exercise, I have read and written every day for 88 days in a row (you can succeed with more than one Mini Habit at a time!).
The first step is always the hardest part, but when you make the first step easy, the rest becomes easier too. I was so taken with my results with this strategy, that I researched the science of change, willpower, motivation, and habit formation. And I wrote a book about it called “Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results.”
If you want to know more about Mini Habits and graduate from the lousy (8% success rate) New Year’s Resolution club, consider buying Mini Habits to make your 2014 great. But don’t wait until 2014 to start. Start your Mini Habits today. Mini Habits will be 50% off on Amazon until January 2nd.
|Written on 12/23/2013 by Stephen Guise. Besides writing for his own blogs Stephen is a featured writer here at Dumb Little Man. Be sure to stop by Stephen’s ‘featured writer page‘ right here on Dumb Little Man to find links to more of his articles.|
Photo Credit: Luna Park NYC