If you’d like to share your mini habits story to encourage others (or have unique modification tips), we’d love to hear all about it! We can also add to your story later with any updates you may have. To submit your story, click here and select “My mini habits experience” for the subject (or leave a comment on this post).
See the Amazon reviews for more success stories!
To validate the power of the mini habits method, I am road testing the mini habit method and thus far, have experienced firsthand the destruction of my own fears, doubts, intimidation, and hesitation. With the passing of each day, I feel incrementally more empowered. I am experiencing the feeling of being on the road to my new habit.
I have committed to playing one song on the piano each day. I have a love/resistant relationship with my piano. I enjoy playing. I truly do. I love immersing myself in the music. I enjoy the challenge of a new piece and taking it from so very raw to polished and smooth. I love what I know playing the piano is doing for my brain and soul. But I have struggled with regular practice for the six years I have been taking lessons. I have been known to skip playing for weeks.
In deciding to play one song each day, I am making a one minute (approximate) commitment. Very small. Stupid small, in fact. Perfect, according to Mini Habits. So far, it’s working amazingly well on both my highly motivated days and my low energy/too busy/zero motivation days.
Tale from the trenches: Today I am wiped. I’m super tired and feel a little like I might be coming down with something. I’m heading toward the end of the day and so grateful that bedtime is fast approaching. I would rather lay here on the couch and watch nothing on TV. BUT “Oh yeah, I’m committed to my mini habit. <Groan>. ” But I only have to play one song. How hard could playing one song be? “OK, I will show up at the piano and whip out the song. Just get it over with.”
One minute later: “Dang, that felt good. But I can play it better the second time.” Then there was the third and the fourth time. By the tenth time I was satisfied. I didn’t have time to think about my state of motivation. I was busily engaged in a mindful state of action. Before I realized what had happened, twenty minutes elapsed and I played three songs multiple times. Phew, what a feeling of accomplishment! Imagine what I could do when feeling strong, in the mood, and motivated. Again, my intention was not to play that much. My intention was to work on habit creation by playing one song and creating a feeling of success.
Feelings of success are fuel for the willpower muscle. I am flexing mine and it’s looking darn good.
One month later: I am playing every day and loving it. Sometimes it’s the minimum mini of one song. However, most of the time it’s much more than that. I have already mastered two simple pieces and have now begun to crave time at the piano each day. I show up to my piano lesson confident and competent.
In summary: Inertia. A body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Personally, mini habits have proven to be a slap in the face to procrastination. They are too small not to want to start.
I loved your book and cannot believe how quickly and effectively it is changing my life! I swear it’s like magic! The success I feel has generalized into every aspect of my life. I find myself doing chores I used to avoid like the plague, because they sort of fall into the routine of the minihabits I am cultivating. Truly amazing! Thank you so much! I could go on and on about my love for the book and the process. I’ve become a great fan!
A little bit more than a month after Glenda told me her experience above, she sent me another email. A heart-shattering email. At the same time, it filled me with hope about just how important mini habits can be—Glenda has shown that mini habits work in all circumstances…even unbelievably tragic ones. And in those cases, they’re needed more than ever. Here is our email conversation:
If you struggle with depression or have recently experienced a traumatic event, having mini habits can help you to pull through the storm. They’ve pulled me through several “mini storms” (like being sick) and are serving Glenda well as she copes with a terrible family tragedy. A big thank you to Glenda for sharing her powerful story with us.
Hi Stephen, When I came across your e-book on my kindle I liked the title and bought it straight away. I’m a middle-aged musician who has struggled all her life with getting motivated to practice. In my youth I used sheer willpower and it worked most of the time, but the battle was always on. In the last few years it’s been getting harder because I want to keep performing but I don’t have as much work and the periods between concerts are much longer. I’m telling you all this because in the last few years I even considered giving up the thing that I love the most (next to my husband, daughters and cat). So I read your book and it was clear to me that my first small step would be opening up the case, tightening my bow (maybe putting on some rosin) and playing for five minutes. Considering that when I was learning the instrument I was practicing up to 4 hours a day, this step seems absolutely ridiculous. However, you said that’s the best small step. It’s only been a short time since I started but already something has shifted. I have to say a HUGE thank you. P.S. Some days, I’m having so much fun playing I lose track of time. Wow!!
Mary Ann Manogue
Ten days ago I began a mini habit. I’m 88 years old with painful orthoarthriis. I began a once daily 3 minute exercise to strengthen and stretch my calves and hamstrings, since my swollen knees can never be completely straightened. I now do 3 times more reps each time and do the entire sequence 6 times a day and look forward to the next time! I can’t believe how great it feels, and it has helped my bedtime “restless legs” syndrome as well. Thank you!
Just wanted to share with you the idea that came after reading your book.
I’ve been struggling for quite a while to deepen my vocabulary in Chinese. So I thought: I’m gonna write a note everyday with at least 1 Chinese word in it. It’s been 12 days but so far, it works pretty well and the memorisation is getting pretty smooth and its quite [an] amusing activity when I compare [it] to the boredom I had when facing the idea of sitting and reading my book for an hour.
So thanks a lot for your help and advice!
BTW: I’ve set myself some other mini-habits and its working well so far! : D
Alban created a website for his new mini habit! Check it out: http://1chinesewordaday.blogspot.hk
Just finished Mini Habits and loved it! I practice mental health at UCLA and was very impressed by your book. Your concepts are so simple and practical but stated in a way that make one proud of trying them out as well as successfully establishing new habits. Personally, I have four mini habits and have been keeping up with them for over 4 weeks already (which for me and my short attention span is amazing- I usually make it 2 max and don’t feel so proud). Thanks so much for sharing not only your ideas but also your personality! Take care.
I read your book and your message spoke to me. I have always been a “baby steps to success” kind of person. That philosophy has served me well, but you took it one step further. I have now adopted a few mini habits and they’re working…big time!
Everyone talks about blogging as if it was easy. I wanted to start a blog chronicling my cancer journey, but starting one was a daunting task and it simply wasn’t getting done. With the help of your book I thought of a name (baby step), listed 43 topics to cover (baby step), secured the domain name, (you get it), watched every video/tutorial I could find to figure out how to get up and running, and baby step after baby step I took the leap. I now subscribe to the 50 words a day minimum and I am making progress…every day.
Check out my blog at www.cancercandor.com. If you know anyone with cancer please pass this link on to them. My goal is to alleviate some of the fear of the unknown and to offer hope. And if you go back in to re-visit it I promise it will be at least 50 words richer every day.
Source: Deep Existence comment (note: Deep Existence no longer has comments on posts)
I bought the book last week, and have been able to implement my exercise goal every day since then! Previously, I had been dreading a long, difficult exercise session. Now I am free to stop after one step or one rep, and so far every day I have done at least 10 minutes. It’s refreshing to not feel like I am fighting myself, and actually work with my brain (and then get to feel proud). Thank you!
Sometimes, you find something that changes your life. One thing that’s like a small cloud, appearing above a dead, dried up land. One raindrop leaves the cloud, announcing the start of a storm. It starts as a light drizzle. Everyday the rain grows in intensity, the one small cloud is consistently growing. A storm rages on, reinvigorating the dead land with new life.
A bright, beautiful double rainbow spreads all the way across a sky. The land is lavish with life once again. It doesn’t stop there though, it grows like it once used to. And this time no obstacle will be big enough to stop it dead in its tracks ever again.
This storm is what happened to my personal growth. I always wanted to do great things, big things. Yet I did nothing. I was a dead, dry land in desperate need of water. The only thing left alive was a withering flower, just waiting until death. Day in, day out, it never got the water it so craved.
This might sound a bit dramatic, but that’s how I honestly felt before. I was never able to do the things I loved. I always thought about them, and when I considered doing them, I got pinned down to my chair by an invisible rope. I was utterly bewildered!
The change started with this one post titled “Take The One Push-up Challenge“. It was there that I learnt concepts that changed the way I think, and approach things. That post was the start, but I read a lot of other posts too. And I figured out why I am the way I am, and what I can do to change that.
I applied these teachings to my life straight away, starting with that single push up. It was the catalyst I so desperately needed.
Now here I am writing a story I wouldn’t have been able to write before, because I’d just think about how difficult it’d be to do it, or how much of a pain in the ass it’d be, or that I’d be embarrassed by being bad at writing.
But you know what? It’s fun. It’s fun writing this, and before I started I thought it’d be tough, too much work, not worth the effort. It’s definitely worth it.
Mini Habits. It’s as simple as that. All the concepts you need, it’s not even limited to creating habits for your self. The whole thing can be applied to any other area in your life! I know, I’ve tried it.
All my life I was afraid of darkness. Dark hall in my home? That’s it, it’s over. I can’t even think straight. If there’s no light, there’s no me.
I decided to change that, and I applied a part of mini habits to this. Namely, small goals and willpower.
My goal was to go into the dark for just a minute. A tiny little amount of time, no biggie. But I decided to do this outside in the most uncomfortable place I could possibly choose. An unused mill (only active during spring/summer), in the middle of the night, everyday.
The worst part was that it was rumored to be haunted by someone who drowned there.
On my first day all I could manage were single steps every minute, looking around terrified by all the dark. Then a quick dash towards street lights on the far end of the other side, and nervous glances behind my back into the darkness I just left. I was breathing heavily when I got out, but I did it. It was a success and I felt so elated by it!
Day 2 was far easier, still a challenge, but I kept at it. Day 5 came around and I was walking much further in than before. Day 10 and I was going everywhere now. On day 31, after an entire month of walking in the dark, I lied down on a bench near the mill, a few steps away. I stared at the starry sky, and enjoyed the peace and quiet, and the river nearby. My fear long gone.
Mind you that I was not making a habit, but building a repertoire of experience to draft on whenever I feel my fear of the dark creeping back up. Now I can tell myself what I’ve been through and how it’s nothing to be afraid of. And that way I can calm myself.
Still, working on a mini habit everyday can give you just as much satisfaction. You won’t be afraid of failing because of how easy it is to achieve your goals. Every bonus you do is a great pleasure, and you can stop whenever you want since you’ve already done your requirements.
For example, I got into the habit of reading. I set my goal to 1 page a day. After a month I completed 8 books altogether. I’ve had some amazing experiences reading these books. They made me stay up really late (books are evil like that), but it was worth every second. All it took was to read that first page, and then I was sucked into it.
However, everyone will have different experiences regarding this. I found it easy because I’ve done chunks of reading in the past. This time I’m not just stopping for half a year, I’m persisting. I want to read everyday, and I’d never give it up for anything.
I actually feel sad just thinking about giving up on books, whereas before I’d just sigh at the thought of opening one of my 1000+ page books, to pick up where I left off. (They’re actually omnibuses, which is a conglomeration of a bunch of books from a series, into one big book.)
So there you have it, I went from a boy that was terrified of the dark to a man taking a relaxing break on a bench in the dark, star gazing. From enjoying books once every half a year, to being a bookworm everyday.
Those results are just the tip of the iceberg for me. I’ve got a lot of other stuff going on, and all of them are showing results. I’m so happy about everything, I wanted to share my story with everyone!
I honestly believe Mini Habits can change your life. It has changed mine, more than I ever thought it would. I believe in myself, I’m looking forward to the future. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m growing drastically fast, and I’m excited to no end. And I’ve only known about this for a month.
I was at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been (though not grossly obese yet). I wasn’t happy with myself, yet I wasn’t doing anything about it. I liked to eat, and though I didn’t like being overweight, it wasn’t enough to make me go on a diet. “It’ll be fine,” I thought. “I’ll just exercise to bring the weight down.” However, I found I couldn’t stick to a routine. I’d start off like gangbusters, use up my motivation and willpower and within a couple of weeks I’d be back to square one (no exercise). [Stephen: this used to be me too!] It’d then take several weeks of self-flagellation to work my motivation and willpower back up to give it another try. This has been going on for quite some time.
About the same time I found your blog and subscribed to your newsletter, I had stumbled onto the same concepts (start small). I decided to forget intensive exercise (P90X, Insanity, Weight lifting, etc) and just … take a walk. Surely I could do that at least. So back in September, I bought a Fitbit Flex (to measure my steps) and decided to take a walk to my community pool (roughly 1.5 miles away). I decided I wouldn’t even commit to doing it every day … 2-3 days a week would suffice. Yeah, I can do that.
Turns out, even getting out the door was a challenge at times. So I lowered my expectations even more. “Ok … Stephen says to start stupid small; so … how about I just commit to changing from work shoes to walking shoes and only commit to that?” So that’s where I started again … then it became, “Now, just step outside the house”. Soon enough, I was walking 1.5 miles about 3-4 days a week.
Now, 3 months later, I still motivate myself with just the first 2 steps: (1) change shoes, and (2) step outside. My progress has really been amazing (to me anyways).
My first walk back in September took roughly 45 minutes for 1.5 miles. This included a brief 5-10 rest at the ½ way point. Now, 3 months later, my walk is an interval of walking/jogging which takes about 20-22 mins; I supplement this with a 5k walk/jog on the weekends. My best 5k time to this point has been 42:19 (faster than my first 1.5 mile 3 months earlier!).
I’m now in training for a 5k corporate run coming up in 3 months; this from just a “stupid small” step of “changing shoes” 3 months ago!
PS. My weight is still not where I want it to be (I do still like to eat after all). I’ve lost a little (about 5 pounds) but it’s no longer increasing. I’ll continue to focus on increasing exercise and the weight will take care of itself in time I’m sure.
Go read Mini Habits and add yourself to the list!