Summary: Mini Habits. Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Stephen Guise

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Summary: Mini Habits. Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Stephen Guise
Summary: Mini Habits. Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Stephen Guise
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Summary: Mini Habits. Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Stephen Guise
Summary: Mini Habits. Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Stephen Guise
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Summary: Mini Habits. Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Stephen Guise
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Stephen Guise

Оригинальное название:

Mini Habits. Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

The Concept of Mini Habits

Ten years ago, ‘Stephen Guise decided to get in shape. He tried everything: he put himself through drills, talked himself into getting his act together, tried to motivate himself to be goal-oriented, set huge goals for himself, and it was all for nothing. None of it helped.

Like most people, he concluded from his failures that he was to blame for everything. But, of course, he was not to blame, but rather his approach. Most well-known strategies do not work precisely because they call on people to go to battle with themselves, their brain, and their subconscious, and this is not an easy fight to win. Our brain is hardwired to resist change because stability is the key to survival.

Contemporary culture teaches us to set global goals. However, big plans are worthless if they do not bring proportionately large results. According to research, in general people tend to significantly overestimate their self-control as the scale of their ambitions does not align with their real ability to force themselves to achieve ambitious goals. Any unrealized aspiration hurts a person’s self-confidence and kills any desire to move forward.

Doing something with too much vigor is better than doing nothing at all. But doing something a little bit every day is much more effective than adhering to some hardcore program that you only manage to do once a month. From these two statements, we can conclude that in everyday life smaller ambitions are more beneficial to us than great aspirations.

Surely, you too have tried more than once to form a new habit. Perhaps you even started taking specific actions. And as soon as your enthusiasm started to wane, you scolded yourself for being lazy and helpless. The good news is that the problem is not with you, but with your strategy. Remember, if a strategy implemented over and over again does not give the desired result, it’s time to change it. And it does not matter that others have used it successfully. What’s important is that it does not work for you personally.

A while ago, one of Stephen’s key goals was to whip himself in shape. On New Year’s Eve, he tried to force himself to do a 30-minute workout. But he could not persuade himself to do the whole 30 minutes as it seemed insurmountable, like climbing Mount Everest. This frame of mind discouraged him from just giving it a go. Then Stephen remembered the "do the opposite" technique, which helps people diversify and stimulate the flow of their creative ideas (for example, if your task is to build a skyscraper, you have to figure out how to build a structure that goes deep underground, which allows the brain to switch over and look at the problem from a different angle).

Stephen decided that the exact opposite of a half-hour workout was a single push-up. What could be easier? He got into the push-up position. It turned out that he’d worked himself all up over nothing. Then Stephen set off accomplishing his next task: to do one more push-up. Then one more. So he assigned himself small tasks until he suddenly realized that he had been working out for 20 minutes in non-stop.

The main lesson to draw from the above example is that although the initial challenge may sound ridiculous, it doesn’t matter. The only important thing is that you get started, and the satisfaction of your mini victory motivates you to do even more.

A mini habit is a smaller version of a big habit you want to form. Instead of a hundred push-ups a day, you challenge yourself to do one. This strategy changes your usual mode of thinking, creates an endless positive reinforcement loop, increases self-efficacy and turns the smallest steps into big habits. You only need a small amount of willpower to force yourself to do one push-up.

In general, habits make up to 45 % of our behavior. These are the actions that are easier to do than to resist. On a physical level, a habit is a connection between neurons. As soon as the neuron receives a signal, it sends an electrical impulse along an already-formed path. At this moment, you feel the need to act "as usual", in a habitual way. The more often you repeat a pattern of behavior, the stronger the neural connection is.

Studies have shown that stress only increases a person’s craving for something habitual. When you are tired, you physically do not have strength to make a conscious decision, and the brain will choose an energy saving mode by offering an already-known motive. If in a difficult moment you are used to overeating, then this is exactly what you will do, after which you will of course begin scolding yourself, get upset and once again overeat. If you get used to coping with stress through exercise, then the first thing you’ll do is run to the gym to try to relieve some tension.

The formula "a new habit is formed in 21 days" does not work here. They say that Maxwell Maltz came up with this theory when he studied how long it takes for an amputee to adjust to new life circumstances. However, this has nothing to do with habits. The most cited study on habit formation was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2009. It purported that the average time for a behavior to become a habit was 66 days. But the range widely fluctuated – from 18 to 254 days. So don’t set super goals: drinking a glass of water every day could easily fall into the 21-day window, but the habit of doing 100 sit-ups daily will certainly take more time.

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