Mini Habits - Deepstash
Mini Habits

Violet S.'s Key Ideas from Mini Habits
by Stephen Guise

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18 ideas


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Mini Habits: Too Small To Fail

Mini Habits: Too Small To Fail

  • Take one small step every day to initiate a lifelong positive habit.
  • People form habits over time through repeated behaviors.
  • A mini habit is the smallest possible iteration of a positive habit, like one push-up.
  • A mini habit is “too small to fail” because it requires only a tiny bit of willpower, and you quickly accumulate a record of success.
  • When your motivation for an activity is high, you don’t need much willpower. When your motivation is low, you need a lot of willpower, which most people don’t have.


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Mini Habits: Rules And Workings

  • Mini habits work because they deplete little of your willpower reserve.
  • On the mini-habit plan, you divide your goals into “stupid small” but effective actions.
  • The mini-habit rules are: don’t cheat, be glad when you succeed, give yourself rewards, stay with your new routine, and drop back and go smaller if it gets hard.

Also, enjoy the ease of your new small steps, recognize why they work, and don’t set bigger goals – just repeat your new mini habit a few extra times.


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Stop Fighting With Yourself

To make changes last, you need to stop fighting against your brain.

Instead, decide that you’re better off taking a step, even a small step, than staying in the same place. Taking one small step daily leads you in the right direction and sets you on your way to developing a lifelong habit. The small step requires little willpower, but its results are enormous.


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Mini habits are low-willpower Trojan horses that can leverage their easy access into the brains control room into big results.



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Smart willpower management is key to personal development as smart money management is key to financial success.



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Forming A Habit

Contrary to common belief, the average time it takes to form a habit is not 21 to 30 days. Studies show it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit. The average person needs 66 days.

You’ll know when a behavior becomes a habit when you experience a decrease in resistance. Instead of forcing yourself to meet your one push-up goal, for example, you’ll head to the gym without giving it much thought.


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The Problem with Motivation

An inverse relationship connects motivation and willpower.

  • When your motivation is high and you’re enthusiastic about something, you only need a little willpower to get going.
  • When the initial buzz wears off or you must face a task you don’t want to do, your need for willpower rises.

When an aspirational activity requires lots of willpower, you’re less likely to stick with it.


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You already have all the inspiration you need inside you, but it may be dormant. Awaken it with mini habits.



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Managing Willpower

Studies show that human beings have only a limited supply of willpower.

The five primary causes of weakening willpower or self-control – called “ego depletion” – are:

  • effort
  • perceived difficulty
  • negative affect
  • subjective fatigue
  • blood glucose levels.


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Choose Your Mini Habits And Habit Plan

  • Write a list of positive habits you’d like to have.
  • Break each habit down into a stupid small step, the minimum possible action, such as sorting one email or saying thank you to one person a day.
  • Try a mini habit for a week and evaluate the results.
  • Then choose to either focus on that mini habit (the “Single Mini Plan”) or to accomplish multiple mini habits a day (the “Multiple Mini Plan”).

If you have one primary goal, such as getting in shape, the Single Mini Plan will be the more effective approach.


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Use The Why Drill On Each Mini Habit

Ask yourself why you want to instill a mini habit into your life, and delve deeply into the answer by asking the question more than once.

Make sure that your mini habits align with your values.


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Define Your Habit Cues

Habits are either “time-based” or “activity-based.” Identify which cue works for each new mini habit.

Do you want to exercise at a specific time, such as nine every morning, or give yourself more flexibility, such as before dinner? If specific cues tax your willpower, assign yourself general cues, such as completing the mini habit before bedtime.


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Create Your Reward Plan

Many habits don’t offer immediate rewards. Sculpting your abs, for example, takes time. Give yourself mini rewards to accompany your mini habits.

For example, allow yourself a 10-minute power nap or watch a fun video as a reward for meeting your mini goal.


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Write Everything Down

Writing something down grants it importance. Visually track your mini habit success to reinforce your sense of accomplishment.

Crossing your performance off on a calendar each day gives you a graphic representation of your progress. Several digital apps can help you reinforce your mini habit by tracking your development.


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Think Small

The advantage of mini habits is that repetition strengthens your willpower. Each task requires just a little willpower to complete and the frequency of repetition forms a habit over time.

Once a habit is in place, you can build on it more easily. That’s why stupid small is powerful.


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Meet Your Schedule And Drop High Expectations

While having a positive belief in your capabilities is good, setting your expectations too high can hold you back.

When you’ve exceeded your stupid small goal several days in a row, your expectations will naturally rise. You won’t be content with one push-up when you’ve done 25 every day. Resist the urge to increase the mini goal to match your elevated expectations. Feel good about your accomplishment and focus on consistency.


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Watch For Signs of Habit

Several signs will tell you that you’ve developed a positive habit:

  • You’ll feel less resistance and perform the activity without much thought.
  • The activity will become less emotional and more routine.
  • You incorporate it into your identity, such as “I’m a writer” or “I’m a cyclist.”


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Eight Mini-Habit Rules

Following the rules of the mini-habits program will keep you on track and ensure success:

  1. Never, ever cheat
  2. Be happy with all progress
  3. Reward yourself often, especially after a mini habit
  4. Stay level-headed
  5. If you feel strong resistance, back off and go smaller
  6. Remind yourself how easy this is
  7. Never think a step is too small
  8. Put extra energy and ambition toward bonus reps, not a bigger requirement.


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"What is called genius is the abundance of life and health." - Thoreau


Personal development blogger Stephen Guise offers a self-improvement program that is “too small to fail.”

Curious about different takes? Check out our Mini Habits Summary book page to explore multiple unique summaries written by Deepstash users.

Violet S.'s ideas are part of this journey:

7 Books on Habits

Learn more about personaldevelopment with this collection

How to break bad habits

How habits are formed

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Curious about different takes? Check out our book page to explore multiple unique summaries written by Deepstash curators:

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