The power of micro-habits

Goals can be daunting when you focus on the outcome of the goal. Habits can be hard to break whilst also being difficult to form.

Photo by Yusuf Evli on Unsplash

Focusing on the outcome of something, your goal, means that you are focusing on the product and not the process. This results in a certain task can appearing to be never-ending, and a goal can seem to be out of reach.

This is far from the truth though. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Behind every single achievement of any person you might look up to — is a simple process. It is just a question of following this process and you will realize that it can be fairly easy to thrive in life.You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. — Martin Luther King Jr.

Break it down

Breaking down your task into smaller chunks allows a person to go from one chunk to the other more easily. One step at a time is all it takes for you to get there and if you break it down in bite size pieces, it becomes more easy to digest. Instead of trying to focus on becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger (product), try exercising 10 minutes on a daily basis (process). As the old saying goes: Little by little, a little becomes a lot.

This procedure (focusing on process not product) has a direct influence on one’s motivation as well. You will not be distracted by the big boulder in front of you but instead you focus on the smaller wins. These small wins, the actual results you can measure are what motivates a lot of people. “Putting in the work” is a common thread when asking someone how to achieve your goals but what if “the work” would only be a couple of minutes a day. Especially in this day and age where everything is fast paced. People tend to aim for fast results to redirect the focus on the next best thing.

That is where micro-habits come in.


Micro-habits might be the way to go. They are so small that most of them can be done in two minutes. Building blocks in a process which can be easily practiced every single day to make changes in your life. Change does not happen instantly, it takes time. To create a new habit, it takes an average of 66 days for something to become the new ‘standard’.

Would you rather have $100.000 in your bank account instantly? Or start with a dollar at the beginning of the month and having the amount double in value at the end of each day. — In 11 days, you would have $1.028 and within the space of a three weeks, you would be a millionaire. Initially the $100.000 sounds very appealing but what I am trying to say here is that it takes time for good things to happen to you. These good things however do especially happen to the people that work for it. The law of attraction 101. Growth does not simply happen overnight and putting in the time and investing in yourself will result in long term gains.

Start with the small things will help you to gain momentum in this journey to achieve your goals and you cannot expect that things will just happen for you. Start today and in a couple of months, potentially years you will be thanking your younger self.Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; me might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. -Earl Nightingale

The kickstart

Of course, I do not want to only leave you with my advice but also some simple examples. This could help you in starting your own micro-habits and will hopefully help you to put them into practice right away. Some micro-habits that have helped me along the way:

· Exercise for a minute in the morning → This helps the blood flowing, brain active and just a fresh start

· Gratitude in the morning and reflect in the evening → This sets a good tone for the day. E.g. three things to be grateful for and three amazing things that happened today.

· Meditate daily, even if it is for a couple of minutes → To raise your self-awareness and become more calm when it comes to thoughts.

· Write to-do lists, preferably the evening before → When you wake up, the to-do’s are already top of mind.

· Read more books. Should I say more?

· Duolingo for a minute (if you’re interested in language) → Ensures you do not forget what you learned and puts your language skills into practice

· Place your phone on the other side of the room → To avoid you from waking up and checking your messages right away.

· Write down thoughts that pop in your head → Do not occupy your brain with to-do’s, thoughts or things you just remember. Write it down to keep your working memory focussed on what matters

· Brush your teeth with your opposite hand in the morning → This helps to reframe your brain.

· Eat something before going shopping → Go shopping on an empty stomach will increase the likelihood of impulse food buying (Google it).

· No screens while eating → Eating mindfully means you give your taste buds the chance to enjoy your food.

Banking 101

“The process is about doing the right things, right now. Not worrying about what might happen later, or the results, or the whole picture.” -Ryan Holiday

An analogy I recently ran into and sums it all up perfectly is the following:

The universe is like a ATM. You need to put in the deposits. If you only take money from the ATM, your balance will run out.

Putting in a couple of minutes every single day will make sure that your bank account will be plenty full (metaphorically). Micro habits are in theory also a mindset. It is about setting yourself to do a certain task for a couple of minutes, which feel like an accomplishment. One accomplishment leads to the other and before you know it, you have adopted multiple new habits without any real effort. Just consistency!

If you focus on the process, the way you work will slowly change and your successes will increase. You will achieve more than you thought was possible. You can reach more of your goals, earn more money, and enjoy live in a different way. Start by shifting your mind from product to process and the rest will follow suit.

The power of micro-habits was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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