Mini Habits – Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise

[currently re-reading]

Keep your habits small – use “stupid small” goals.  That will keep your brain from stopping you.  “I will do 1 pushup a day” instead of “I will go to the gym every day and exercise for an hour.”  “I will meditate for 1 minute a day” is better than “I will meditate twice a day for 45 minutes each time.”

Willpower should only used to force yourself to create habits, and the smaller the habit the less willpower you will need.  The pull to do the thing becomes stronger than the resistance to doing it.

Is your current strategy working?  If it is, keep doing it!  But if it isn’t, and it hasn’t over and over and over again, change your freaking strategy.  It’s not your fault those past strategies didn’t work, but you are responsible to recognize that and change your approach.  Try creating some stupid small mini habits and see where they take you.

“To make changes last, you need to stop fighting against your brain.”

Which would you rather have, intentions or results?  The biggest intention means nothing if you don’t actually do anything about it.

A little every day is better than doing a huge amount once and then never again.

“Every great accomplishment rests on the foundation of what came before it; when you trace it back, you’ll see one small step that started it all.”

I marked this book on Goodreads as “read” on June 3, 2017.  Rereading it now, and his “golden pushup” story is a bit different from mine.  When I first started with mini habits, there was none of this “I just did one, so I can keep going for the next 30 minutes.”  There was only “I just did one, so I’m literally done for the day.”

Which was a good thing – I took it super literally.  If I said I would do one minute of meditation, I did exactly one minute of meditation.  At least for the first few days.  I’m now on a 26 day streak at about 20 minutes each morning.

It’s really ok to start stupid small and stay there for a while.

Hey look, a blog post by Stephen about his One Pushup Challenge.

This reminded me of Bill Murray and baby steps:

Habits work because they create and strengthen neural pathways.  The more you do something, the “stronger” the pathway becomes.  It’s like water – the more it flows through the same area, the more it digs a path, which makes it easier and easier to follow the same path.  And again, and again, and again.

Therefore, mini-habits work because they start off the creation of the pathway.  And the more you do them, the deeper the path becomes.  Eventually, the water of your behavior happens without you even thinking about it – and you feel “weird” if you don’t do it.

Stephen Guise on the Web, Twitter, and Facebook.

Brian Johnson has pulled some big ideas from this book – check them out here.


Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes

Learn to observe your thoughts without judgement.  Practice this daily.

Life is suffering.  We can’t escape that, but we can act anyway.

Conceptualized Self – that part of us that sees ourselves as a story: “I am depressed.”  “I am stupid.” “I am a success.” “I am a failure.”  This is most dangerous self when it comes to creating and “trapping” suffering.

Suffering from anxiety, depression, etc can lead to (usually does) identifying with those illnesses as who you are.  They are there, but they are not the whole you.

You are not your pain.  You are not your joy.  You are the conscious container of it.

Mindful Eating – pay attention!  It doesn’t have to be enjoyable.  If it isn’t, pay attention to the unpleasantness of it.  The point isn’t to enjoy eating more, it’s to bring awareness to your own thoughts and feelings about the eating itself, and by extension, to life.

Think of your mind as a chessboard with pieces on it.  Your thoughts and feelings are the pieces; your observing self is the board.  See your situation from the perspective of the board – the pieces constantly move, focus shifts from one to the other, and they come and go.  But the board is always there – unchanging.

Check out the book on Amazon.



The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius by Pierre Hadot

“Seneca had defined the discipline of action as follows: in the first place, judge the value of the matter in question; then adjust our active impulses to this value; finally, bring active impulse and action into harmony, so that we may always remain in accord with ourselves.”

I’m woven together with this moment.  Woven together.  I think that’s a pretty cool (and wise) idea.

“Only one thing has value down here: to spend one’s life in truth and justice, all the while remaining benevolent to liars and the unjust.”

Check out this book on Amazon


My Philosophy for Successful Living by Jim Rohn

Personal development can be boiled down to taking information in, being inspired by it, allowing yourself to be transformed by it, and inspiring others to do the same.  That last part is important – we don’t live in a vacuum.  Share what you learn with others.

You are only paid for what you bring to the marketplace.  Jim may be talking about the financial marketplace here, but all a marketplace is, is a place where people trade.  When you have the capacity to give, you will receive as well.  It may not always be in the way you expect, but you will receive.  The universe is a marketplace.

But you must have something to give in the first place.  Develop that.

You are your own product.

Forget your excuses.  Identify the obstacles within.

“If you refine and change your philosophy, everything around you will change as well.”

Work hard on your job and you’ll make a living.  Work hard on yourself and you’ll make a fortune.

Don’t wish for your life to be easier.  Work on making yourself better.


“… that which does not evolve does not prosper and does not survive.”

“Becoming a skilled communicator is one of the best investments you can make in yourself.”

Do your honest best to maintain your physical fitness.

Learn from others experiences, both their failures and successes.

“You can have all you want out of life if you endeavor to help others.”

Work is necessary.  Don’t shirk it.

Stuff takes time.  Work on it, but don’t berate yourself if you aren’t seeing the results you want as quickly as you want. Monitor, but don’t rush.

Personal Responsibility.  Self-Education.  Self-Development.

Six Steps:

  1. Be Productive. (“Your goal should be to produce something of worth and value for the world.”)
  2. Value Relationships.  People who don’t make a contribution to society often find themselves alone.
  3. Respect Your Origins.  Celebrate where you come from!
  4. Spiritual Health.  (Whatever that means to you.)
  5. Build an Inner Circle.
  6. Plant the seeds.  You just need to plant the seeds and care for them.  You don’t have to make the plant itself.

Focus on the other person and what you can do for them.

“He that wishes to be the greatest, let him find a way to serve the many.

You are the only problem you have.  And you are the only solution.

“You can’t win if you’re a victim.”

Even if you’ve got no idea what you are doing, you can still win.

When (not if) you lose, know that you will recover.

Check out the book on Amazon


The Slight Edge – Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson

You already know what to do. Stop just reading and start doing those things that have brought you success in the past.

Start small, and build.

“Life is not a clickable link.”  Nothing is instant – it takes daily action on the small things to get results.

The things that will bring you success and happiness are both easy to do and easy not to do.  The things that will cause failure are both easy to do and easy not to do.  Do the good, avoid the bad.  This idea is generally credited to Jim Rohn, but really captures the essence of the slight edge.

[More ideas from The Slight Edge – Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson can be found here]

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink

[More on the book here]

If there’s something you want to do: start here, start now.

If there’s something you want to have: get after it, right now.

Get up early for your first win of the day.  This requires that you go to bed early enough to get the sleep you need.  The best way to go to sleep early enough is to be tired at the end of the day.  The best way to be tired at the end of the day is to get up early and get after it.

Assert control over your mind.  When it comes to taking action and getting stuff done, weakness doesn’t get a vote, negativity doesn’t get a vote, frustration doesn’t get a vote.  None of that shit gets a say in what you do.

One thing that I’d recommend with this book – get the audio version.  Because of Jocko’s… powerful presentation (that’s the only way I can describe it), the material’s impact is ratcheted up about 100x more than just reading the words.  It’s available a bunch of places – I picked up a copy on Google Play.  And it’s way better as an album with tracks rather than as a traditional audiobook – easier to jump right to what you are struggling with.


Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg

[More on the book here]

“Productivity, put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort.”

Productivity is relative.  You get to decide what productive is – generating income, spending quality time with your family, training for a marathon… whatever you want it to be.

Motivation is a skill that can be learned.

“When people believe they are in control, they tend to work harder and push themselves more.”

Give people (yourself!) the opportunity to make choices – provide a sense of autonomy.  Maybe remind yourself that you *choose* to do that thing that you feel like you have to do.  Ultimately, there’s nothing that you have to do – there’s only “have to if I want this other thing.”  Have to go to work because I want to pay the bills.  Have to pay the bills because I don’t want to be homeless and destitute.

“Motivation is triggered by making choices that demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control.”

Work on your internal locus of control.  Don’t blame your sickness – work with it, around it, through it.  Use it as an advantage.

“An internal locus of control emerges when we develop a mental habit of transforming chores into meaningful choices, when we assert that we have authority over our lives.”
[More ideas from Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg can be found here]

Meditations: With Selected Correspondence by Marcus Aurelius, Robin Hard (Translator), Christopher Gill (Introduction, Notes)

[More on the book here.]

“Now these may hinder one or other of my actions, but they are not hindrances to my impulses or my disposition, because I have the power to act with reservation and turn circumstances to my own advantage.  For the mind adapts and converts everything that impedes its activities into something that advances its purpose, and a hindrance to its action becomes an aid, and an obstacle on its path helps it on its way.”

In other words, The Obstacle is the Way.

Misfortune born well is good fortune.

[More ideas from Meditations can be found here]

Become What You Are by Alan Watts

[More on the book here]

“There is no wisdom in scorning riches simply because one is unable to obtain them, nor in despising the pleasures of the senses because one has not the means of fulfilling them.  If the desire for these things exists, and if that desire is thwarted by circumstance, to add self-deception to frustration is to exchange a lesser hell for a greater.  No hell is worse than that in which one lives without knowing it.”