Have you ever heard of micro-habits?
It is said that change is the only thing that is a certainty in life.
So, why is it so difficult to change our habits?
Why is it so hard to give up junk food for more wholesome food?
Is it really so difficult to get motivated to exercise regularly?
Why is it very challenging to leave behind the awful behaviour of procrastination?
If you have had the noble intentions of adopting better habits and have failed, you are not alone. Scientific studies show that every time a person attempts to acquire a new habit, they are highly likely to fail more than once.
Does this mean we should not strive to acquire better habits and change our lives?
Not at all. What this means is that you need an effective system to help you change your life.
The conventional way of implementing change has typically encouraged people to take quantum leaps to get instant results.
While some people can go all in and achieve maximum and instant results, for most of us, a better technique is to take bite-sized chunks, adopt new habits incrementally, effectuate change slowly.
This is the power of micro-habits. Small, incremental actions that add up to completely transform your life.
This guide will show you how to change your life by making small daily improvements.
Why Are Habits So Hard to Change?
Habits play an important role in our lives.
According to Charles Duhigg, without habits, our brains would explode trying to compute and implement the minutiae of daily life.
Without habits, simple things such as brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, taking a shower, and locking the door as you head off to work would be overwhelming. The brain would have to keep relearning these activities and life would be reduced to trying to get these trivial things done.
So, habits are important.
However, it is a no-brainer that not all habits are equal. Some habits are good, wholesome, progressive, and healthy. Others are bad, toxic, retrogressive, and unhealthy.
Replacing the latter with the former can be a real struggle for many people.
Studies have shown that the mind becomes puzzled and paralyzed when forced to go against the default. This means that to change habits, which are a person’s default way of doing things, a lot of confidence, self-efficacy, and motivation is necessary.
If something is too difficult to do, most of us will opt to stay in our comfort zone. Unfortunately, this approach makes things worse and makes change all the more difficult.
The Culture of Faster, More, Bigger
In a culture that encourages faster results, bigger achievements, more progress, change can be a daunting prospect. You are looking at losing 100 pounds or growing your bank account overnight. This is the only way we perceive meaningful change- it has to be fast, more, or big for it to be commendable.
But this view of change can set you back from actually doing anything to achieve your goals.
Losing 100 pounds is not easy. Earning $10,000 within a week is quite difficult. Therefore, you look at these things and because they are large and sometimes difficult changes to make, you feel less motivated to start the journey.
Negative Emotions Motivate Human Behavior
Emotions such as pain, shame, fear, and anxiety keep us from replacing a poor habit with a great one.
The physical pain you will experience the first time you start a workout program.
The shame you are afraid of experiencing if you attempt to quit smoking and fail.
The anxiety that keeps you from starting the blog you have been putting off for the longest time because you are unsure whether things will work out.
These and many other negative emotions keep us from even attempting to change and so we remain stuck with the status quo.
Micro-habits: Going the Whole Hog
Many self-improvement books, websites, and resources tell us to just eat healthier, work out more, or wake up earlier and everything else will fall into place. Often, these big, life-changing transformations take more than just a positive mindset to accomplish.
The problem with this advice is that it fails to take into account the complexity of behavioral change. It has the counterintuitive effect of encouraging people to bite off more than they can chew
And that’s a recipe for disaster.
For many of us, when we fail at something, it is easy to be trapped in fallacies that go something like this: “Because I failed, then it is impossible.”
This makes it very difficult to try changing our lives and so we remain stuck in the default.
Lacking A System That Actually Works
If you want to fix something, you need the right tools to get the job done.
Attempting to change deep-seated habits without the right process or system will not yield long-lasting changes.
If you want to have a leaner body, you need to understand the workout and dietary processes that can help you achieve this goal.
But just because a process or system promises to get you there does not mean that it will. The right system is one that feels good, seamless, executable for you, and in alignment with your goals.
Changing poor habits can be difficult if you are using the wrong system.
So, what is the right system?
Using the Power of Micro-Habits to Change Your Life
The conventional all-or-nothing way of effecting change is not always effective.
What if, instead of attempting to make big changes, you could make a small adjustment to your daily routine, which, in turn, would allow you to enjoy significant results?
With micro-habits, it is possible.
What Are Micro-Habits?
A micro-habit is a simple action that requires minimal motivation to complete. When done many times over or when stacked together with other micro-habits, these micro-habits compound and result in significant changes.
A micro-habit will not have life-changing effects today but with time, the small changes you make can cause your life to be entirely different from that of another person who did not attempt to make any daily changes.
What makes micro-habits especially powerful is the fact that you experience minimal resistance. The less difficult it is to change, the more likely you are to do the work that is needed to effectuate that change.
Incorporating micro-habits into your day-to-day life makes it less likely to give up when life gets crazy. With time, these small actions become part of your routine, a vital part of your daily life.
That’s how you bring lasting, sustainable, and meaningful change into your life.
How to Start Using Micro-Habits Today
The best thing about using the micro-habits system to change your life is that it is the path of least resistance. You can start today.
Keep Your Goals Clear and Simple
Instead of trying to make so many changes, start with just one area of your life that you want to improve.
From there, determine a simple action you can start to do to help you achieve your goal.
For example, you want to have a leaner body. Start by doing just one type of exercise for a few minutes a day. This could be doing several pushups or sit-ups for two minutes every day.
Gradually, you can stack on other exercises and increase the duration of time you perform these exercises.
To avoid the urge to give up, ensure that the amount of time you commit to any micro-habit does not end up requiring too much motivation. The more motivation you need to do anything, the less likely you will do it.
Focus on The Person You Want to Become
Behavioral change can be difficult but micro-habits attempt to simplify the process.
Through the prism of micro-habits, change occurs through three simple steps: Be-Do-Have.
- Be: To realize significant improvements in your life, you need to first envision what type of change you want. You must first understand what your goal is
- Do: To achieve your goal, you must do certain things
- Have: This is the outcome of your doing
For example, say you want financial stability.
Your goal would be to become a man/woman who is financially stable. To achieve this, you need to consistently put aside funds for investment or saving purposes. By doing this, you will have enough money for emergencies and to sustain yourself.
Start Where You Are and Be Consistent
A common misconception is that to change our lives we need to adopt an entirely different set of habits or behaviours.
Of course, you want to replace bad habits with good ones. A better way to do this is to improve on what you are already doing.
This is so much easier than starting from scratch and trying to acquire a new habit.
For example, say your goal is to read at least six books a year. You are already reading but you are not reading every day.
This is a great place to start from. If you are only ready 20 minutes a day, try adding 10 or 15 minutes onto that so that you are reading 30 or 35 minutes a day.
Gradually, depending on the time you have available, you can add onto that number so that you are reading for longer, therefore allowing yourself to get closer to your goal.
Even though micro-habits are easy to undertake, consistency is key. Commit to reading every day for X number of minutes and with time, you will develop excellent reading habits.
Do Less of What Doesn’t Work
Did you know that it is easier for humans to do less of something than it is for us to do more of something?
Let’s illustrate that.
It is easier to eat fewer unhealthy foods than it is to start eating healthy foods all at a go.
So, if you were to apply the micro-habits system to improve your eating habits, instead of setting a goal to eat more healthy foods, you could determine to eat fewer unhealthy foods.
Instead of setting a goal to increase the duration of your workouts, you could determine to miss fewer workouts. Increasing the duration or even intensity of your workouts may require more motivation and a greater time commitment and eventually, you may start to make excuses and give up eventually.
The underlying thinking here is that it is easier to make improvements by eliminating certain actions from our daily routine than it is to set a new record by adding more actions into our routine.
This does not mean that you should become stuck in your comfort zone. The idea here is to ensure that you are taking consistent albeit small actions, to ensure that your performance does not go below the current level and that you stay motivated to achieve incremental improvement.
Let Go of The Need to Be Perfect
Micro-habits are less about perfect results and more about incremental improvement.
In a world that demands perfection in all aspects of our lives, this can be a difficult prospect. However, you must decide that you are going to change your life on your own terms.
Micro-habits will not give you instant results. Depending on your consistency, it may take days, weeks, and sometimes several months to see any significant results from the small, daily habits you practice each day.
Micro-habits are the epitome of the saying ‘practice makes perfect.’
Do not be deterred by the fact that it might talk a little longer to see any meaningful changes in your life.
When the change happens, when you acquire a great new habit, it will not be superficial and fleeting. Instead, it will be authentic and enduring.
Now more than ever, we have to grapple with too many demands on our time. As such, it can be difficult to get anything done.
However, instead of resigning and not doing anything to improve your life, why not commit to doing something small every day. Two minutes is all it takes to change your habits, your outlook, and your life.
Instead of trying to eat a whole elephant, why not snack on a bite-sized micro-habit that is so much easier to chew and swallow.