Micro Habits: They will get you far, not quickly but surely
Does this sound familiar:
It’s January 1st and you’re so motivated for the new year. New year, new you. You will fix your diet, read more, save more, exercise more.
You have already set out your goals: 5k run a day, eat nothing but chicken and broccoli, read 50 pages a day, practice the piano for 1 hrs… the list is long.
The first week you do these with high motivation. You don’t skip a beat! You’re AWESOME.
However, a day comes, and for some reason, you miss your daily exercise. You know you won’t be able to do a 1 hr piano session.
You tell yourself “I’ll make up for it tomorrow, I’ll do 2 hrs”
Tomorrow comes, it’s time to practice the piano, you have a whole 2-hour block that you need to dedicate.
Of course, life happens, and allocating a 2-hour block is harder than you anticipated, and you end up not sitting beside the piano.
You get a total of… drum roll please… 0 hours of practice for the second day in a row. You feel sad, you lose motivation, and now, you’re less likely to practice the next day…
The cycle continues…
Do you see the problem here?
Goals and dedication are awesome. However, most of the time, you’re pushing yourself to a standard that you’re not ready for YET. Moreover, you’re not accounting for the reality that things don’t always go as planned.
Here is how you should use micro habits:
Instead of setting out to practice 1 whole hour of piano that day,tell yourself, I’ll sit for 5 minutes and see what happens.
This is a subtle shift, but a HUGE one.
Surely, (especially because you’re home because of Corona) you can find a 5-minute window to practice the piano.
Maybe after you go get your $0.30 homebrew. Or after you take a break after your endless Zoom calls. Whenever it is, you can squeeze a 5-minute session.
What happens when you sit on the bench? Chances are, you’ll continue to play well beyond the 5 minutes you set out to do. Edging closer to your initially intended 1 hr goal!
“A good beginning is half the battle.”
“He who has begun, has half done.”
With this simple mindset, you will end up having practiced the piano, instead of getting no practice.
At the end of the day even if you only dedicated 5 minutes and had to get up: 5 mins > 0 mins…
In a month, that is 150 minutes, or 2:30 hrs, vs 0 hrs if you keep skipping your sessions.
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For example sake, let’s say that your goal is the go to the gym for 40 minutes or runs for 40 mins every day. That’s a great goal…
However, what if something comes up and now you only have 20 minutes? Are you going to throw away the whole session?
Take the 20 minutes! In fact, I would revise your goal to something like this “I will put my shoes on and get out of the door”.
Again, there is a subtle but impactful shift in the way that you’re priming yourself.
Instead of building a mental barrier of a 20–40 minutes run, you are just tasking yourself with the simple task of stepping outside.
Subsequently, when you’re out, you feel the fresh air fill your lungs. You are already out, you already have your shoes on. All you need to do is run!
After you start running, it’s totally fine if you only run 5, 10, 15 minutes instead of the 40 minutes you set out to do.
At least you got in your workout. This is one huge step (no pun intended) closer to your goal.
If show up every day, 5 minutes, or 50 minutes, you will look back and marvel at how far you’ve gotten.
“I never viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic. You know, while the other guy’s sleeping, I’m working.”
— Will Smith
In conclusion, you are constantly told to dream big, set huge goals, push yourself.
Certainly, that is all very true, you should never settle for small dreams. However, habits take time to settle. They need nurturing and it is your JOB to allow yourself to develop the habit.
I’ll say: “Dream macro, start micro”
If you want to read more content on productivity you can check out this post How to Learn Anything Faster? A 3 Brain Hack Guide