How to Transform Your Life with Mini Habits
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I’m not the type of person who can do anything halfway.
Ask me to do something and I’m the girl that gives you 110% effort. And if I’m going to make a change—like cultivating a healthy lifestyle—you better believe I’ll go sugar-free, gluten-free, and work out for 60 minutes straight the first day!
I’ll let you in on a little secret: This does not work. At all.
Despite my best efforts, any goal I’ve set for myself quickly evolves into an insurmountable standard that even a die-hard perfectionist can’t reach. This leads me to quit before I’ve even begun (or, at best, just a few days in).
Which is why in 2015, I decided not to set any personal goals.
Instead, I focused on mini habits—one small, doable improvement per month that would snowball into twelve life-changing practices.
I dubbed 2015 my Year of Intention, motivated by the fact that the previous year was such a huge year of blog, writing, and business growth for me. I had let a lot of things slide in lieu of hours upon hours of work.
That Year of Intention sometimes feels like a lifetime ago, and yet…many of those habits stuck with me, gently guiding me back to the purposeful life I was so desperate for at the beginning and still desire today.
Why Mini Habits Work
If you really think about it, change doesn’t happen overnight. Change takes place when you practice small daily habits over and over again until they become so ingrained in you that it feels weird not to do them.
Even more than that…
1. Mini Habits are Easy to Accomplish – Because mini habits are so small, you can easily work them into your day without much effort at all. It’s one small choice that has big life-changing results. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, but I shoot for 30 to be extra safe. Mini habits are literally the key to how to change your life in 30 days!
2. Mini Habits Give You a Quick Win – Unlike resolutions, you don’t have to wait months to transform your life and reach your goal. Mini habits are attainable and give you a quick win every time you do them, thus encouraging you to keep going rather than give up. Talk about a major confidence booster!
3. Mini Habits Create Lifelong Change – When you practice mini habits over and over (and over!) again, you rewire your brain to do that habit without needing to convince yourself that you should do it. And once you’ve been successful with one mini habit, it becomes much easier to add another, and another, which will move you even closer to completing that big New Year’s resolution or goal you gave up on years ago.
Now imagine tackling twelve different mini habits, one per month, over the course of the next year to create lifelong change.
Whether you’re unhappy with a bad habit you’ve gotten into, or you’d like to develop a better routine…no matter what stage of life you are in, or how busy you might be, there is always room to practice a mini habit.
Think of all the things you could finally accomplish in the next few months because you adopt this simple practice!
You Just Need to Choose Your Habits
I picked all my habits up front, and you can do that, too, or you can choose as you go. This is your personal journey and I want you to make it your own.
But if you need ideas to spark inspiration, I’ve got suggestions for a few good habits to have:
- Create an evening pickup routine — In 10 minutes, clear off the countertops, arrange the pillows on the couch, fold blankets, or put away anything else that’s out of place. The time limit makes this simple task even more doable! I like to incorporate this task into my everyday evening routine.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule — Give yourself a “light’s out” time and turn off social media at least 30 minutes before bed so you can prepare your body for sleep. Journaling and/or reading is a great option to get you in the bedtime mood. If you have trouble sleeping, try one of these proven ways to sleep better tonight.
- Be more active — Gradually increase your workout regimen (even if it’s just a 20 minute walk three times a week) and you’ll discover more than just heart-pumping benefits. You’ll mentally feel better too. These workout clothes and accessories guarantee you’ll look super cute wherever you workout!
- Dress for success — Confidence radiates from the inside, but begins on the outside. Just a simple makeup routine paired with a cute top and jeans can make you feel extra special, and even boost your productivity! Here are the makeup products I splurge on if you want to update your beauty regimen.
- Read more books — Wish you had more time to read? Making this beloved pastime a priority is not hard as you might think, and if you’re anything like me, you’re a much happier person when you’re reading regularly! Not sure what to read? Here’s how to know every time what book to pick up next.
- Drink more water — Ditch the soda and fruit juices and commit to drinking more water from now on. You’ll find it easier to keep to this habit by tracking your water intake in your planner (here’s a cute stamp!) or by investing in a BPA-free tracking water bottle.
- Practice gratitude — Grab a cute journal and jot down one note a day about something you are grateful for. This note can be one word, one sentence, one paragraph! You can name a family member or write about something lighthearted, like your favorite batch of chocolate chip cookies. Either way, you’ll find a greater appreciation for life just by doing a little reflecting each day.
- Make your bed every day — Make this simple one-minute task a habit the moment you wake up and you’ll instantly feel like all is right with the world and you can tackle anything you set your mind to. Okay, maybe not to that extent, but you’ll be ready to tackle almost anything with a neatly made bed jumpstarting your day!
The Most Important Truth to Remember about How to Transform Your Life
My Year of Intention was probably one of my hardest years to date, but it was also a major turning point.
Yes, I tackled 12 mini habits over the course of the year, and yes, I made some pretty big changes to my everyday life as a result, but the biggest impact this challenge had on me was that I did not suddenly became perfect at managing my day-to-day and my home…and I learned that was okay.
I know that sounds completely counterintuitive, but hear me out.
No matter how many habits you and I try to implement, we will ALWAYS be on a lifelong journey to do better, to be better. We won’t one day just magically get there. There is no destination. You and I…we will never arrive.
It took me a long time to come to this conclusion. Here’s why: I thought this challenge would set me up for long-term success. That by the end of 2015, I’d be a brand new woman with a home, work, and personal life that synced together in perfect rhythm.
But instead, I sometimes felt like I hadn’t made any real progress at all.
Except, if I looked closer, I actually had.
Because progress is… not giving up. Progress is giving each day your absolute best, and going to bed with satisfaction instead of guilt.
I’m saying all this because this mindset is exactly how I’m approaching each new year now — progress, not perfection — living each day to its fullest, doing the absolute best I can. I’ll still continue to work on my mini habits and use every opportunity as a chance to better myself, but I’m done feeling guilty about not doing enough.
Life’s a journey, and I’m ready to actually enjoy it! And today, I’m extending my mini habits challenge to you.
What to Do Next
Sign up in the box below to get my Habit Tracking printables sent straight to you. This set includes three worksheets:
- A printable to help you track ONE mini habit for 30 days. Keep it simple if you’re just starting out. You don’t want to overload yourself all at once with tons of habits and not accomplish any of them!
- A printable to help you track EIGHT daily habits per week. Once you have a few habits under your belt, you can print these small squares on sticker paper and cut them out to fit inside your bullet journal or regular planner each week.
- A printable to help you track EIGHT daily habits per month. If you like tracking your habits on a monthly scale, download this option. You can also print it on sticker paper and trim to fit on a planner page.
I’ve purposefully kept the list to eight habits because any more than that is hard to keep up with and do well. The goal is to not do multiple habits half-heartedly—you want to rock the ones you choose!
Whether you pick one of the habits I mention above as you learn about how to transform your life or choose your own, I’d love to hear more about what habits you want to cultivate in a comment below!
I’d also love to check in with you and see how you’re doing, so tag me on social media (@KalynBrookeCo) with anything you share in regards to your mini habit progress and use the hashtag #12minihabits. That way, I can easily find you!
Just remember…progress, not perfection.
What habits are you choosing to work on right now?
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I related to everything you said! It’s like you were living in my head…lol! So many habits I want to learn…read my Bible more, drink more water, complete what I start, etc.
It’s so overwhelming sometimes, isn’t it? I hope you’ll join in me in developing a few of those mini habits you mentioned! 🙂
There are many habits I need to work on in the new year. Thank you for this.
You’re welcome, Dottie. Here’s to new changes!
I have a problem with clutter. I hate to put things away, I’d rather leave them in plain sight. Sometimes when I put things away I FORGET WHERE I PUT THEM and then they sit till I find them while looking for something else. Maybe if I get in the habit of putting things away on a regular basis I’ll remember where to go look for it?
My husband is the same way… I’ve found that it is best to have everything organized in a visible manner. Shelving that is tidy but open, drawers and file folders that are clear.
P.S. I’m thinking that putting a reminder in my online calendar might help remind me to accomplish this challenge.
I think both your ideas are great, Bennie. Even a simple 10 minute pickup at night can do wonders for your sanity in the morning! Stay tuned, because that’s definitely going to be one of the habits I’ll focus on for 2015. 🙂
P.S. again, here’s a perfect example, once I put something in a cabinet, like a new bag of sugar/flour I forget to check if I need more for a recipe, buy one and when I go to put it away I see I have an unopen bag. The same goes for cans of tomato sauce, chicken broth, etc. If I buy an extra can or two, especially if they are on sale, I put them in my cabinets and forget they are there. It’s like I need open/glass cabinets (can’t afford right now) to see my inventory of everything and to not just shove things in them making them look cluttered. Does that make sense?
That does make sense. Have you ever thought about keeping a Pantry Inventory Sheet to keep track? I’ve seen a lot of those and have used my own version from time to time.
Ever since becoming a stay-at-home-Mom with a small business of my own, I’ve had to create mini habits for myself and my family. Amen for saying no to new year’s resolutions and yes to mini habits!! They build upon themselves. It’s taken me more than 2 years to change my own habits and routines and we’re nowhere near perfect, lol! But, as new habits become routine, the amount of joy you can experience increases exponentially….as long as your new habits line up with your values. Cheers to this journey for 2015!!
It’s so awesome to hear your success story, Oriana! Mini habits do take a long time to develop, but they stick. You have really encouraged me today that this is more than possible — thanks for leaving your sweet comment here!
Perhaps to help ease you into this journey, you may consider flylady.net . I have received so much love & support from this woman & her insights….. <3 Katrina
Thanks so much for the site and tip, Katrina! I love adding new resources to my repertoire.
Yes! I love everything about this, Kalyn (I’ve been slowly incorporating new mini-habits into our daily and weekly lives, but didn’t have a name for them until now!). And I love the idea of focusing on one for every month of the year. Thanks for the free printable, too! How can we NOT join you!?
Thank so much for your encouragement and support, Lauren! That means the world to me. I find myself so easily overwhelmed by all the things I wish I could change — I’m counting on mini habits to be that secret sauce that helps me finally implement some of those items I keep putting off. 🙂
We have the same mini habits to work on! Can’t wait to read what you are going to work on first. I’d pick making the bed daily. Only because it seems the simplest. Lol
In case you missed the post, here’s a link to what I picked! https://kalynbrooke.com/make-your-own/homemade-bread/ Making my bed daily will be coming soon. 🙂
I like working on mini habits like drinking my 32 oz water bottle 4 times daily.
I’ve been trying to drink more water too, and it’s hard! I have to keep reminding myself to chug away. 🙂
I totally agree. I like setting huge plans and then fall flat on my nose with them. Lately I’ve tried to list some way smaller goals and try achieve them first. This allows me to make slow progress each day, but it’s still a progress.
Progress is definitely what counts, that’s for sure! 🙂
Oh I LOVE the idea of mini habits!! Little steps at a time for changes. Thanks for this great post
I love the idea of the mini-habits. You are totally right about making small changes to create big changes. I love your mini-habits! We do weekly meal plans and it totally has helped us a ton!
I often find these things overwhelming, too. I like to give myself really big goals and I often find myself drowning in them. Sometimes, what I do is work for just 10 minutes at a time. I can often clean a full section of the house in that amount of time. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Right now, I’m getting some writing done on a novel I’ve had sitting on the computer for months. I’m only on the second page, but it’s getting somewhere. I want to do some hiking and more working out, but I need to just put my shoes on and walk around the neighborhood for 10 minutes. I usually find that once I start something, I’m motivated enough to keep going until I finish. My goals for this year are to not have missing assignments, work out more, and to finish the chores that I start.
Those are great goals, Erin! You are right, sometimes the hardest part of accomplishing a goal is getting started. Tackle them one by one and you’ll look back at the end of the year with a sense of accomplishment.
I feel the same way about my bed. I can’t focus on work if my bed isn’t made. It’s probably all in my head but at least I seldom have a messy bed 🙂 (I’m a poet!)