How Tiny Habits Work? Achieve Anything
Most of us don’t manage to do everything we want to do on any given day. We only have a certain amount of time and energy, so some things inevitably get left behind.
Can you manage to practice the piano, reading books, meditating, and exercising every single day, while working a day job?
I can and you could as well. Today, I would like to share a method I’ve found to be extremely helpful for managing all these competing goals. It’s called: Tiny habits.
A few years ago I wanted to implement meditation in my daily life and make it a regular habit. So I told myself: “From now on, I’ll do 20 minutes of meditation, every single day.”
Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as I had hoped. Often I couldn’t even bring myself to start meditating, let alone do 20 minutes of it.
I would make excuses like: “I have to be somewhere else in 20 minutes, I don’t have time to meditate now.” So I didn’t meditate that day for even 1 minute.
Then I would often feel bad the next day and I would say to myself: “Ok, now I’ll make up for it and do 40 minutes today.”
Yeah, that also didn’t work out. But then I decided to switch it up a bit. Instead of having such high expectations of myself, I decided to make my meditation practice as easy as possible.
I reduced the time I wanted to meditate, from 20 minutes to 2 minutes. This way, no matter what happened in my day, I could achieve my meditation goal.
It didn’t matter how tired or how busy I was, I could always find 2 minutes somewhere in my day, so there were no excuses.
One of the biggest problems people have is that we expect too much from ourselves. And as a result of those high expectations, we sometimes don’t get anything done.
You might expect to go to the gym and workout for 1 hour. But what happens when you only have 40 minutes to spare?
Most people wouldn’t go to the gym at all, because their goal is to exercise for 1 hour. So instead of getting 40 minutes of exercise, they settle for 0 minutes instead.
Their high expectations are preventing them from doing what they’ve set out to do. And that’s the wrong approach. This is where tiny habits come in.
Essentially tiny habits, are habits where the expectation is so low, that you can do them every single day without fail.
And even someone who’s depressed or stuck in a mental rut can find success. Remember all those activities I listed at the beginning?
They were actually tiny versions. When I said I do those activities I didn’t mean I do them for 1 hour each.
Instead, I practice the piano for just 3 minutes, read 1 page of a book, meditate for 2 minutes and exercise by doing a few push-ups.
Now you might think I’m actually unproductive. If you read just 1 page of a book per day, that won’t get you anywhere, right?
Well, that’s not necessarily the case. The reason I have these small habits is that they allow me to get everything done over a longer period and I create habits that actually stick.
Years ago when I was struggling with my meditation practice, turning it to a tiny version made all the difference.
Since the expectation was so low, I had no problem starting the habit. And what happened, as a result, is that when I did the habit for those 2 minutes, I would often do a little more afterward.
So ultimately what ended up happening is I would sometimes do 20 minutes of meditation, even if the goal was just 2 minutes.
That’s why tiny habits work so well. If you don’t feel like doing the habit that day, or if you’re low on time, you just do the tiny version.
This way you still get something done and there’s no guilt afterward. But often you will find that the tiny version expands into a longer version.
On some days your motivation will be high and you’ll keep on going for much longer. If you have tiny habits, it doesn’t mean you’re unproductive.
While my expectation might be to read 1 page of a book, I often read for 30 minutes or more. Same with all my other habits.
I’m sure you heard of Newton’s first law before. Objects in motion, tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest, tend to stay at rest.
This can be said about humans as well. If you’re currently procrastinating, it’s very difficult to make yourself go study for 1 hour.
However, if you’ve been studying for 3 minutes already, it’s so much easier to just continue studying. And that is what tiny habits do.
They help us get started because they don’t require too much commitment from us. Starting something is often the biggest problem we have when it comes to productivity.
But, once we start and gain a bit of momentum, it’s much easier to keep ongoing.
If you have an expectation to clean your entire room, you might never get around to do it, because the thought of doing all that work seems daunting.
Instead, you want to commit to something super easy like; just organizing your desk. When you do that, you’ll find it much easier to continue, since you have already started.
You might then get some extra motivation and do some more cleaning.
But even if you don’t feel like doing anything else afterward, you still did something, which is more than nothing. And this type of tiny approach will get you more results in the long run, than the typical approach.
A typical habit usually looks like this: You set a big goal, where the expectation from yourself is high. The first few days go fine as you feel motivated.
Then whoopsy, you had to miss a day because something else came up. However, you manage to get another good day in.
But again, life gets in the way and you had to miss two days in a row. And this continues on and on… Until you can’t bring yourself to do the habit any longer and it falls apart.
Now a tiny habit looks like this: You set a goal for yourself, but it’s an extremely small goal and the expectation is low. So low in fact, that it’s super easy to do it every day.
You always do a little, but sometimes you have time and energy to do more. And even if life gets in the way, you’re able to do the tiny version no matter what, because it’s so minuscule.
Essentially you never miss a day. So even after months, you are still going and continuing the habit.
Basically, you commit the minimum effort towards a goal, but make it highly frequent.
And in the long run, tiny habits pay off much more than typical habits.
Now I encourage you to find something that you’re constantly procrastinating on and apply the tiny habit concept there.
Make the habit so small that you’ll never have a problem starting it.
So whatever that might be; studying, building a business, exercising, writing, meditating or cleaning.
Make the goal so small that you cannot fail. Study for 1 minute. Do 1 push-up. Read 1 page. Remember, objects in motion stay in motion. Motivation to continue will come after starting. Thanks for reading.
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2 thoughts on “How Tiny Habits Work? Achieve Anything”
This post makes a lot of sense and everyone who procrastinate can connect with what you have written here. Thank you so much for the article. You are a gem of a person.