How to Start a Habit in Just 20 Seconds a Day
Spring is just about here, and we have a hunch that some of your most promising New Year’s resolutions may have fallen by the wayside by now. (We’re just as guilty!) It happens to the best of us — forming healthy new habits can seem seriously impossible sometimes! But how about giving it another go? To give you the BEST chance of success, we chatted with author Stephen Guise, who wrote Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. If you have as much as a minute free each day to follow his advice, you’ll be well on your way to making your resolutions stick the second time around.
1. Start small.
It’s almost shocking, but 20 seconds a day is all it takes to form a habit. Stephen says, “Consistency over time is the key to success. I recommend that people think of a normal goal, like getting in shape, and then minimize that into a related behavior that is ‘too small to fail.’” In fact, he told us that doing just one push-up per day was the first “mini habit” he pursued – eventually turning it into a full gym habit. Is it your dream to write a book? Begin by writing a few sentences a day. Really want to be a runner? Start with making your way around the block each morning — WITHOUT immediately pushing yourself to do more.
2. Schedule your habit into your life.
Once you figure out what your mini habit will be, all you have to do is decide where it will fit into your life. “One of the fastest and easiest ways to incorporate a new habit is to attach it to an existing habit, or to schedule it at a particular time,” Stephen advises. “Try a ‘once-per-day’ option, which is where you require yourself to complete the behavior any time before bedtime, but you choose when.” We bet that kind of flexibility will work for pretty much anyone.
3. Stay the course.
Stephen stresses tracking your progress, whether you do it with a calendar, app or something else that works for you. Tracking, he says, “will keep you mindful of the habit you’re building, hold you accountable and encourage you to keep the winning streak alive.” Practicing mindfulness, accountability and encouragement are essential ways to stay focused on developing your new habit and meeting your big goal — and as Stephen reminds us, “marking your progress every day accomplishes all three.” YES.
4. Don’t beat yourself up.
While the time to officially reach your goal will depend on you and your mini habit, know that by staying the course, you WILL get there. “When your habit attempt involves a very easy behavior that takes less than 20 seconds, such as drinking a glass of water or doing one push-up, it will become a true habit faster,” Stephen says. “If you attempt something like 100 push-ups a day, not only will it be far more difficult to be consistent, but it will also take much longer for the habit to form, even if you manage to be consistent.” So start small, be consistent, let the habit form and then build from that solid foundation.
And if you miss a single day? Don’t give up! Studies show that progress won’t be ruined because the mind looks for patterns. A small slip-up isn’t enough to derail all of the work you’ve put in, so long as you get back on course and continue to trend in the right direction. Phew!
You’ll know you’re on the right track when you’re excited about your mini-habit and your behaviors are more automatic, even becoming part of your identity. How wonderful will it be to introduce yourself as a runner, writer or whatever you hope to become? Don’t lose sight of your end goal. You’ve got this!
What habits are you hoping to form? What’s your biggest goal for 2016? Talk to us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)