Microhabits are bite-size components, or small steps that you can take in your quest to establish a larger-scale habit.
If you’ve ever vowed to create a new habit, only to let yourself (or others) down, you know that wanting to create a new habit and actually creating — meaning sticking to — that said habit are two very different animals.
Enter microhabits. They’re small. They’re unintimidating. And they’re relatively easy.
Their power lies in their sustainability. Because they’re small, unintimidating and relatively easy, you’re more likely to start them — and far more likely to stick to them.
Let’s say you want to start doing some sort of exercise during your lunch hour. That’s not only vague, but it can be overwhelming if you’ve never exercised during lunch.
What if you started by taking a 10-minute walk around the block? You might find that the world didn’t collapse in your absence. You might enjoy the burst of energy you feel after getting out in the fresh air. And you might be inclined to engage in a more robust exercise activity, whether a longer walk or a one-hour kickboxing session at a nearby gym.
Microhabits: If You Want Something Big, Start Small
Breaking the Cycle (Doing Something Rather Than Nothing)
Inertia is a funny thing. When you feel stuck, you do nothing, which usually leads to … more nothing — if not mounting frustration.
Microhabits are small, but they’re mighty in their ability to break that cycle of inertia.
Whether you adopt a microhabit like making your bed every morning or adding greens to your smoothie, you’ll feel an immediate boost of confidence. You’ll actually be doing the thing you thought about doing yesterday. And that’s empowering.
Once momentum kicks in (after 21 days, according to many, but likely sooner), the effort versus reward scale leans heavily toward the latter.
How and Why Microhabits Work
The psychology around what makes any habit stick — or, more aptly, what makes you stick to a habit is multi-layered, encompassing three basic elements:
- Authenticity: First, you need to have an authentic desire for change. If you’re not intrinsically motivated to create a new microhabit, the likelihood of sticking with it is slim, at best. While you can be rewarded for making a change (who among us is immune to accolades from our boss, our partner, our friends …?), the desire to create and stick to the new habit has to be yours, and it has to be real.
- Accountability: When you declare that you’re going to do something (even if it’s just to yourself), you’re far more likely to do it. Your commitment to any microhabit will drive its success.
- Accomplishment: Humans are sophisticated animals. We like see the results of our efforts, even if the effort or the result is small. When you water your plants, they grow — not overnight, but over time. (If they didn’t, you’d surely stop at some point, right?)
Small Beginnings … Vast Promise
Microhabits can be the first step you take toward establishing a larger-scale habit, or they can be a crowning achievement on their own.
Making even the tiniest change to your routine opens the door to possibility. When that change yields positive results, you step through that door.