The Best Habits Start Small (Really Small)

Building habits and routines that stick around.

June 19, 2017

We’ve All Done This

It’s Monday, time to hit the gym and get fit again right? Time to finally eat healthy, get more work done, spend more time with family, etc.

You start out by going to the gym. You know what you like to do. You jump on the treadmill and you run until you can’t breathe. Then, you go to the machines and do as many as you know how to do.

When you get home, you eat a salad. Because you’re healthy now, right? Mind over matter. Even though you’re hungry you stick to it.

You go to sleep that night feeling accomplished — you crushed that day.

You wake up in the morning, after you’ve hit snooze a few times. You’re sore and don’t feel like getting out of bed at all.

Your body is starving for some carbohydrates. You eat a huge breakfast. You eat a huge lunch. You eat a huge dinner. You don’t go to the gym that day because you are so sore and can hardly move.

You piddle around the rest of the week recovering from your soreness. You eat a salad here and there, but it’s not much different than before. You weigh your self on the scale. No change at all.

It’s Monday again, time to hit the gym and …

Why do we do this? We want to change, and we want to work hard towards that change. We feel like we are working hard, and it feels like we are struggling. That’s what it is supposed to feel like, right?

You Can’t Change Everything In One Day

It’s just not capable for human beings to do.

What if I told you that getting fit isn’t supposed to be a struggle? Sure, it’s hard, but it’s not the uphill battle you may have been facing.

The same goes for eating healthy, reaching your goals, making any major changes in your life.

You have to start small. Really small. Like, embarrassingly small. So small that you don’t even consider it progress.

Instead of going to the gym on the first day and getting your butt kicked, simply start out by getting your gym clothes on at the time you’ve decided to go.

That’s it. Do that for a few days.

Then, when your body begins to naturally remind you that you’re supposed to put your gym clothes on (meaning you’re beginning to build a habit), drive to the gym (or get out your stuff at home).

That’s it. Do that for a few days.

Now, you’re probably feeling embarrassed about going to the gym and then leaving, right? Well, now it’s time to go in.

When you get in, don’t do a full-blown workout. Do a light workout. Focus on your breathing, shake the cobwebs out. Do some stretching.

That’s it. Do that for a few days.

Now, it’s finally time to start putting in the work an progressing. Start getting stronger and fitter. Start tracking your progress and the workouts you do each day. Measure your progress and use it to tweak your routine.

It’s probably about a month later now, and you’ll be shocked how much easier it is to get to the gym and do your workout. You’re not sore, you’re not stressed about it, it’s simply part of your routine.

Do you see how this method can translate to other routines in your life?

Instead of starting out by eating salads for every meal, start out by just cutting out sugary drinks. Then swap out carbs in the morning for some protein.

Make little steps. Take a few days on each step. After all, what’s the rush?

Start Thinking Long Term, Not Short Term

You don’t need to be fit right this minute. You should want to be fit for life.

You have a long life, so why do you want to change everything right now? Take this month to get fit, next month to get healthy, next month to learn that thing you’ve always wanted to learn.

Cramming everything into one day is a good way to get nowhere with your goals.

Thinking long term is the best way to make good decisions today. The things you do today impact tomorrow.

Call To Action

If you really want to get serious about creating amazing, long lasting habits (and breaking the bad ones) check out James Clear. He has some incredible guides and processes to make you more productive and successful.