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MicroHabits and Motivation

09.13.19 |

Creating change in your life—and sustaining it, which is often the real challenge—can be a frustrating process. We often feel like we make progress in the short-term, but then we have a bad day where our boss yells at us and we drift back into our comfortable but unhealthy behaviors. We reach for sugary foods and we sprawl out on the couch instead of cooking a fresh, healthy meal and going to yoga.

For many people, this is a motivation problem. You have probably seen the Instagram posts about staying motivated and being committed and pushing yourself, but if we’re honest with each other, you know your motivation level is not at a high level every moment of every day. Your willpower is affected by stress, emotional state, internal dialogue, lack of sleep, and even hypoglycemia. These all affect the reliable drivers needed for consistent repetition to repetition, the key to replacing your old Habits of Disease with new Habits of Health.

When you stake your ability to change on motivation alone, you are much more likely to fall into the yo-yo pattern of moving forward only to drift back into your old ways. It’s a common pattern, and we hear stories from our clients all the time about how they had given up on their health because they felt like they just couldn’t keep their motivation up.

If you felt this way or experienced this in your life, you’re not alone. And there is a better way.

Dr. A’s Habits of Health Transformational System is built on proven processes for not only making change, but sustaining it. One of those key pieces is what we call microHabits.

A microHabit is the smallest possible version of a new Habit of Health. In fact, it’s so small that it should be nearly impossible to fail at doing it. For example, if you want to get more physically fit, starting an intense gym routine can be tempting, but instead, do something smaller first. Do one push-up a day.

No matter what, you can always do one push-up, and it’s okay if your one push-up is on your knees or even leaning against the wall. The most powerful part of this is not the physical activity you’re getting—though that counts!—it is the way this one simple activity starts to reprogram your routine. If you can do one push-up a day for 66 days, you have a new Habit of Health.

And then you can do one more. Or maybe five more. That first microHabit, the one that’s so small that you can do it no matter how awful your day was or how unmotivated you feel, lays the foundation for consistent change.

The microHabit approach is something we explore in great depth in my new books, but it’s a philosophy you can start to apply today.

Here are the basic steps you can take:

  • Identify the change you want to make. Perhaps you want to reach the point where you are drinking eight glasses of water a day.
  • Break that larger Habit of Health into smaller pieces. For example, start by drinking one extra glass of water a day.
  • Repeat that behavior for 66 days. Use phone reminders or the free Habits of Health App to stay on track.
  • Once you have mastered the microHabit, expand on it for another 66 days. Repeat this process over time, advancing at your own pace.

If you’re reading this and you have already started to use microHabits of Health in your life, I’d love to hear your story!