…If the desired habit and goal are aligned with an existing routine.
One of my important goals is to develop the habit of writing daily. It’s a scary goal to commit to because I’ve tried to develop a daily writing habit before, and failed.
Fear of failing has caused some cognitive dissonance, because while I don’t write daily, I also know I can. These conflicting beliefs cause mental tension. Dissonance.
Stephen Guise writes in Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results that mini habits double as training for believing in yourself. He advocates for developing mini habits because small behaviors/actions that require a lot less effort will lower resistance to trying.
A mini habit needs to be ridiculously small. It needs to be small enough so it can be done even on the worst days, the days when everything seems to work against the best laid plans, the days when doing even one more thing feels like a Herculean task.
Guise recommends starting with a goal of one mini habit and not more than three. The idea is to limit effort, which naturally limits time needed to do the necessary actions. Ridiculously small.
50 Words a Day
To support my goal of writing daily, I tried to develop the mini habit of writing 50 words a day. That’s the least I can do.
It didn’t work for me to just add another task to do. It didn’t work because it was a random act, an exercise. (I’m not fond of exercise just for the sake of exercise either.) What does work is to tie a new habit goal to some other thing that is fun or has personal value. It’s called habit stacking.
Habit stacking works because of a human behavior pattern. We humans often decide what to do next based on what we just finished doing; like putting cups in the cupboard after they’re washed and dried or making a turn when driving after putting on the car’s blinker.
I write three pages in a writing journal every morning after I drink some coffee and before I eat breakfast or engage in other things. I don’t read Facebook posts or email, or make phone calls before I write.
Are you trying to incorporate some new behavior into your life? Leave a comment; I want hear about what’s working for you.