The Best Mini Habit You’ve Never Considered

Remember that one time you decided that you were going to do something awesome and you did it? Great! You owe that success to planning. This is the best mini habit that nobody thinks to have!

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

~ Someone Smart

Put simply, planning means you’re 300000% more likely to live intentionally, and living intentionally is how you live the life you want to live instead of the lame default life that the world will give you. Planning can be a life-changing ordeal, but most people only do one type of it.

Reactionary Planning

The struggle with planning that I’ve had (and I assume most others have) is that to plan something, you sort of need to… plan on doing it. As strange as it sounds, you need to plan in order to plan. And if you must plan to plan, it means you must also plan to do that, and that’s an infinite causal loop. The paradox of a causal loop is that an origin cannot be determined. How does one plan to plan to plan to plan [∞…]?

Causal loop. Blah blah. I know. What does it mean for us?

Planning is hard because it has no clear starting point.

When does planning begin? Why does it happen at all? What triggers us to plan?

If you’re like most people, your planning trigger is usually when you encounter something extreme. For example, an extremely positive event like making more money might cause you to plan for a new lifestyle afforded by your good fortune. Or maybe it’s a negative event or disappointment that upsets you and creates a desire for change, and so you may then plan to change what you think caused the problem.

Reactionary planning is good—we should respond to life’s events—but it’s incomplete. If you only react and don’t create, you’re not the driving force of your own life! This brings us to a more important type of planning. 

Between extremes, it’s easy to put your life in cruise control and just rest on the laurels of your previous decisions. But what if you didn’t wait for something to inspire a new plan? What if you considered and created new plans all of the time?

Intentional Planning

Intentional planners don’t wait for a stimulus event in order to plan.

In many cases, intentional planners prevent negative situations because they planned ahead. For example, you might eat healthy food and exercise now, which protects you against a number of diseases (as opposed to waiting until you get sick to change your ways). Or maybe you invest 10% of your income in a Roth IRA to maximize your tax-free earning potential (as opposed to waiting until you are at retirement age to think about retirement and having to work 10x harder for less money just to scrape by). 

Reactionary planning is innate human behavior. Intentional planning is a learned skill. Just like juggling, you need to practice it to get good at it. In order to practice intentional planning, you have to intentionally plan to do it. I know, we’re back at the causal loop issue. But did you notice while talking about reactionary planning that it was effectively started by extremes? Extremes are a unique and clear starting point—helpful for breaking the causal loop—but not one you can (or would want to) trigger at will.

That’s where mini habits come in.

Introducing: The Planning Mini Habit

Mini Habits has sold hundreds of thousands of copies across 17 languages, so naturally, people have thought of many different mini habits to add to their lives. But a really important one has likely eluded all of us until now—the planning mini habit.

Here it is, in all its glorious simplicity: Plan for one minute or plan for one item (whichever is easiest at the time).

  • One minute example: This could entail thinking about your retirement, writing down investment strategies you like, and… Oh! Your minute is already up. You can stop here or keep planning. Your mini habit is done!
  • One item example: You signed up for an online brokerage account. Done. Signing up for an account means you’re planning to use it, planning to invest, and planning to manage your finances. That’s a lot of planning built into one simple action!

Mini habits are world-renowned for crushing resistance to action. They’re easy to do, simple to start on a whim, and they’re so much fun. What’s better than building a lengthy winning streak? That makes the planning mini habit a great starting point for getting your “planning to plan” plan to work. Wow. I don’t even want to know how many times I’ve written “plan” so far. (Actually, now I do want to know. I digress.)

The best thing I can do now is show you how exciting this is. My planning mini habit starts today and I can’t wait to see how it grows. You might see in a moment that planning is the one thing your life has been missing.

Planning Is Diverse and Powerful: Here Are Some Ideas

  • Organize your computer desktop: the other day, my desktop had about 40 screenshots on it…
  • Plan a trip: this includes many sub-plans like saving money, activities to do, places to see, etc
  • Improve how you process your email: I’m doing this one now. I’m going to try out sanebox
  • Figure out a new fitness plan that fits you and your lifestyle better
  • Determine your ideal investment allocation: Is it based on current market conditions? Your age? If so, what will it take to reweight it?
  • Life and retirement balance: How can you provide for yourself and enjoy your life both now and later on your current paycheck?
  • Career: sub-planning for days… interviews, job research, applications, skill-building, etc.
  • Your living situation: Move? Stay? New roommate? Old roommate? Live in another country for a year and come back? Sell everything and travel?
  • Change your eating plans: How can you improve your eating routines? Is there a way to eat better food faster, cheaper, or more often?
  • Organize or rearrange your room
  • Find a girlfriend/boyfriend: Online dating? Asking strangers to dinner? Going to Meetup groups? Not staying in your room all day? Talking to people and getting more comfortable with it? Learning new pick-up lines (“Did you invent the airplane? Cause you seem Wright for me.”)?
  • Start a business: There are dozens of sub-plans here
  • Organize your life: What software or system do you want to use to manage your life goals? Does your calendar hold only events or also to-dos? Lots of sub-planning here!
  • Plan your perfect morning routine: Think about how to make it happen and write it down!
  • Plan your perfect bedtime routine: Think about how to make it happen and write it down!
  • Improve your emotional stability: Meditation? Therapy? It all starts with a plan…
  • Whiten your teeth: I’ve actually been thinking about this. I’m wanting something similar to Ross in the video below. I included this one here to show that some plans aren’t a big deal, but can be nice.

There are so, so many more plans to consider. How about planning for how to get a new pet, surprise a friend or lover, learn piano, start a band, write a novel, or become funnier in conversation? When you have a planning mini habit in place, the daily grind becomes the daily find. You’ll find many more opportunities in your life than you used to find, just from taking a little bit of time each day to plan!

You’ll notice one common theme in all these ideas—they have the potential to whiten your teeth improve your life substantially. Planning rivals habit development in importance and impact, and that’s coming from a guy who wrote all three of his books on habits. Start your planning mini habit today and you’ll combine both powerhouses of personal growth. If all goes well, you’ll develop an intentional planning habit!

When you sit down to do your planning, simply ask, “What do I want to do with my life?” Any idea that comes up will require some planning, and you can casually brainstorm from there or get serious and write things down. Both have value. The important thing is that you’re practicing.

Last tip: make sure you track your mini habits! Check them off daily on a physical calendar or use an app. Tracking mini habits daily reminds you of their importance, motivates you to keep the streak alive, and encourages you as you see your winning streak climb.  See the tools page on for some good tracking options. I currently use Loop – Habit Tracker for Android.

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