How to Build Your Own micro Habits of Health

01.24.20 |

Dr. A’s Habits of Health 2.0 introduced a groundbreaking new idea that we have been testing in the field for years: micro Habits of Health.

The idea of a micro Habit, or mHoH for short, is to build a new habit by starting with a step that is so small that failure is almost impossible.

For example, if your goal is to do 100 push-ups a day, the mHoH would be to do one push-up a day. Just one. Every day. When the habit is this small, it is far less intimidating and can fit into any schedule. Did you just go the whole day without doing your one push-up? That’s okay. Do it right before you got to bed.

After 60 days, this small daily choice becomes a habit, a hardwired part of your routine. You can always do more push-ups a day, of course, but the key to harnessing the power of habits is to build the long-term momentum of doing that habit day after day until it becomes an automatic part of your behavior. Once you build the foundation for a Habit of Health, you can layer another mHoH on top of it to continue your growth.

Eventually, you will be able to do 100 push-ups a day with the same automatic programming that makes it easy to tie your shoelaces or to drive your route to work.

You can use a mHoH to create change in any aspect of your life. Here’s how:

  1. Choose the big long-term goal you would like to achieve. 
  2. Identify the behavior (or behaviors) you need to change to achieve that goal.
  3. Find the smallest version of that behavior possible, an action you can complete on even the worst of days.
  4. Repeat that behavior for 60 days.
  5. After 60 days, increase the behavior, but still keep it small, just not as small.
  6. Continue this cycle again and again until you reach your goal.

The push-up story is one of my favorites to tell because it so clearly illustrates the power of the mHoH approach, but let’s work through a few other examples.

If your goal is to read a book each month and you are currently not a reader, your mHoH might be to read a single page. Just one page. That might sound really small, but I would guess that on some days you will read more, and that’s great. The goal, however, is to create a reading habit, so even if you don’t feel like reading, the time it takes to read one page is so small, and requires so little effort, that you can always do it.

Another example: Perhaps your goal is to rewire how you think about the big picture of your life because you feel yourself getting lost in the momentum of each day. Can you take 30 seconds on your lunch break to close your eyes and breathe deeply? Only 30 seconds. Of course, you can! Eventually, you will build a mindfulness meditation habit where you spend a few minutes each day calming your mind, but those first 30 seconds are an incredible start.

What mHoH are you working on now? How are you building it? I’d love to hear your story.