How to Choose Your Habit Intensity

This article is about my new book, Elastic Habits. If you’ve read it, add this knowledge to your arsenal. I think you’ll find it very useful!

One of the most critical parts of elastic habits is choosing what intensity to do each day. An elastic habit has three levels/intensities of success. How do you know whether to do Elite, Plus, or Mini? I gave some ideas in the book, and really, the texture of your day will often tell you the answer outright, but today I’m going to give you three new ways to decide.

I’m using the same elastic habit example for all three methods to highlight the difference in procedure.

The Elite First Method

This method is simple: First consider Elite. If you aren’t up to the challenge today, that’s okay! You can move down to easier and easier options.

With the Elite First method, every day, you look at the Elite level and ask yourself, “Am I willing and able to do this today?” If the answer is yes, you do it and get the big win. Nice job!

If the answer is no, move to the Plus level. “Am I willing and able to do this today?” If the answer is yes, do it. Nice win!

If the answer is still no, then you simply select one of your Mini options.

You can go through this process in the morning as you look at your day ahead. Or you can go through it when you have some time to complete your habit. This is my least favorite of the three methods overall personally, but it can work well for some people and situations. For example, if you are the type to be motivated by challenges, this might be the best choice since it starts off by offering you the greatest challenge.

The Upgrade Method

With this method, you consider the easy Mini level first. (That should be an automatic “yes” or else your Mini is too difficult.) Then you consider upgrading your win to Plus and Elite.

This method moves in the opposite direction, starting easy and considering “upgrading” to greater challenges.

First, ask yourself if you’re willing and able to do the Mini option. This needs to be an automatic “yes” or your Mini level is too difficult!

Then ask yourself if you’re willing to do one of the options at the Plus level for an upgrade. If no, then you’ll do the Mini level and keep your habit streak alive. Excellent! If yes, then move on to the next question.

Finally, ask yourself if you’re willing and able to do something at the Elite level. If yes, go ahead and get that big win! If no, that’s fine too, because you can slide back down to the Plus level for a moderate win.

I love this method because it’s rooted in positivity and “upgrading.” You start out affirming you can dominate the Mini level, and then give yourself opportunities to upgrade it (once or twice) for bigger wins.

The Middle-Out Method

If you’re having a bad or especially busy day, you can move to an easier Mini win. If you’re feeling inspired and have more to offer, you can upgrade to a bigger Elite win.

This approach works well because it gives you maybe the best feeling of freedom and power. When you start in the middle, you can move outward in either direction, making your habit easier or more challenging. It’s the ultimate feeling of freedom because you won’t ever feel like you’re being forced into too-easy or too-hard behaviors.

There’s no wrong way to choose your daily intensity. But if you ever find yourself stuck, you can use any of these three methods to find the right solution to keep your habit streak alive and maximize your potential in a way that only elastic habits can.

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