Mini Habits - Stephen Guise

Mini Habits - Stephen Guise

 Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes 

Mini Habits

“I had experimented with personal development strategies for a decade." 

"When I accidentally started my first mini habit—and the changes I made were actually lasting—I realized the prior strategies I relied upon were complete failures. When something works, that which doesn’t work is exposed.

"The science of Mini Habits exposes the predictably inconsistent results of most popular personal growth strategies, and reveals why mini habits are consistent."

"A mini habit is a very small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day; a mini habit’s ‘too small to fail’ nature makes it weightless, deceptively powerful, and a superior habit-building strategy."

"Mini Habits will better equip you to change your life than 99% of the people you see walking around on this globe. People so often think that they are the reason they can’t achieve lasting change; but the problem isn’t with them—it’s with their strategy."

"You can achieve great things without the guilt, intimidation, and repeated failure associated with such strategies such as ‘getting motivated,’ resolutions, or even ‘just doing it.’ To make changes last, you need to stop fighting against your brain. When you start playing by your brain’s rules—as mini habits show you how to do—lasting change isn’t hard.”

Are you getting predictably inconsistent results?

Maybe some days you're kicking butt and taking names and others you're a frog on a log?

This is a common experience!  Human beings have natural fluctuations in motivation. 

But all too often we beat ourselves up as if we're supposed to be butt-kicking superman everyday!

The problem here isn't that we aren't superman..

Rather it's that we have a built a system that EXPECTS us to be superman everyday!

How many times have you cooked up a plan for 'tomorrow' that was something that felt impossible today?

Mini-Habits is our solution to that!

This system is built on making things 'stupid small' and building momentum..  

Instead of planning for superman days we plan for the frog on a log days..  All while making room for if superman does come around!

PS. Are you tired of motivating yourself through guilt, intimidation, resolutions or just doing it?  Well.. This is the right place for you!

Stupid Small

“A mini habit is basically a much smaller version of a new habit you want to form." 

"100 push-ups daily is minified into one push-up daily. Writing 3,000 words daily becomes writing 50 words daily. Thinking positively all the time becomes thinking two positive thoughts per day. Living an entrepreneurial lifestyle becomes thinking of two ideas per day (among other entrepreneurial things)."

"The foundation of the Mini Habits system is in ‘stupid small’ steps. The concept of small steps is nothing new, but how and why they work have not been adequately dissected. Of course, small steps are relative too; a small step for you could be a giant leap for me. Saying ‘stupid small’ clarifies it, because if a step sounds stupid relative to the most you can do, it’s perfect.”

What is your 'target habit'?

Might be something you've been trying to pick up for a while or something bran new!

  • Maybe it's eating healthier
  • Maybe it's doing more exercise
  • Maybe it's reading more

Let's take that and make it 'Stupid Small' together!

  • Eating healthier becomes eating 1 vegetable a day
  • Doing more exercise becomes 1 pushup a day
  • Reading more becomes reading one page a day

Seem like it's too small?  GOOD. 

  • The point of these mini-habits is to make it so small it's almost stupid..  That way on your WORST day you could at least do this one thing. 
  • This is going to help you build CONSISTENCY before you try to do something more difficult!


“The benefit from following the Mini Habits system is surprisingly big results." 

"First, there’s a great chance that you’ll do ‘bonus reps’ after you meet your small requirement. This is because we already desire these positive behaviors, and starting them reduces internal resistance."

"The second benefit is routine. Even if you don’t exceed your small requirement, the behavior will begin to become a (mini) habit. From there, do bonus reps or scale the habit up."

"Another benefit is constant success. A bank may be too big to fail, but mini habits are too small to fail; and so they lack the common destructive feelings of guilt and inadequacy that come with goal failure."

"This is one of the very few systems that practically guarantees success every day thanks to a potent encouragement spiral and always-attainable target. Mini habits have made me feel unstoppable; prior to starting mini habits, I felt unstartable.”

Going Mini: Bonus reps and building routine!

Remember superman from before?

  • Some days he shows up..  Does his one pushup and then busts out a full workout!  That's bonus reps.  The Mini-Habit system is built for superman.
  • These days happen..  They aren't EXPECTED though!  Don't turn this into a 'if I'm not superman I'm nothing' kind of a game.  (We've played that before). 
  • Rather: celebrate when it comes, know that the more it happens the more it happens.

Remember the frog on a log before?

  • Some days he shows up..  Doing his one pushup takes a lot of willpower!  But not so much that he doesn't do it..  The Mini-Habit system is built for the frog.
  • Did that one pushup make a real difference for him physically?  No.  But it did preserve his momentum and continue the habit chain. 
  • (This let's us keep playing the game and find more superman days). 

Long story short..

  • We all have these two persona's inside of us and any variation of the two!
  • That means that when creating a strategy we need to take BOTH possibilities into account..  
  • Build a system that helps the frog and superman!


“Chances are that you will do extra sometimes. And the reason relates to basic physics. Newton’s first law states that:"

"1. An object at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it."

"2. An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an external force acts upon it."

"Can you see how this relates? Once you take the first step, you are officially in motion. You will find as I have, that once you get started it is almost as hard to stop as it is to keep going. Add to this that nothing is more motivating and inspiring than seeing yourself take action."

"Put it together and we get a new equation: One small step + desired behavior = high probability of further steps.”

Are you trying to go uphill or downhill?

Think about 30 minutes of working out, meditation or reading on your worst day..

  • Doesn't that kind of feel like Sisyphus rolling his rock up a hill?
  • Unlikely to get much momentum going here! 
  • More likely..  You're going to talk yourself out of starting!

Now think about 1 pushup, 1 breathe or reading one page..

  • That feels like a downhill right!  Once you're there you may as well do one more..  Or two!
  • This gives us the chance to build momentum.. 
  • Bonus is that we're very unlikely to talk ourselves out of something that small!

Science shows that getting started is the most important part!

  • Often we believe that we need to 'be in the right mood, feel inspired or have the energy' to get something done..  
  • Really though what we need to do is just get started..  The Procrastination Equation tells us that our mood follows our actions just as much as vice versa. 


“Mini Habits are a self-efficacy-generating machine, and importantly, you can get started successfully with zero self-efficacy."  

"Your daily successes will train you to have high self-efficacy."

"How can you not believe in your ability to do one push-up per day? You can do it in between these two sentences. And this amounts to strengthening your self-efficacy through practice. Mini habits double as training for believing in yourself.”

How is your self efficacy?

'One's belief in one's own ability to succeed'

  • This is huge and often overlooked!  What's step number one to succeeding? Believing.  
  • That is what self-efficacy is all about!

But not the rah rah 'believe in yourself' we sometimes run into in personal development..

  • But the real thing..  Self Efficacy (confidence or belief) through action!  
  • Want to build a real trust and confidence in your abilities?  Show yourself that you can accomplish things over and over..

The Tiny Habits method is perfect for this:

1. First we set a Tiny Habit and think it's too easy

2. Then we try to do that habit day to day and realize that it's sometimes hard

3. Slowly but surely we show ourselves that we can do it and gain confidence to do more

vs Regular Goal Setting

1. Set a goal that you think will be hard to accomplish but if you 'buckle down' you'll make it

2. Realize that everyday despite your best efforts it doesn't feel like you're moving towards the goal

3. Eventually decide that it's not worth the daily effort if you can't get to the goal


“It is far more mentally energy efficient to break things down into small components that are easily ‘mentally digested’ and less stressful. The goal of losing 100 pounds in a year is a constant energy drain and burden. And with this goal, it’s possible to lose 50 pounds and feel like a failure." 

"Why would anyone be interested in that? One workout feels like a drop in the bucket, and it is in the grand scheme of your massive goal." 

"It’s hard to feel good after a workout when it represents almost nothing compared to your goal. With mini habits, though, willpower is preserved as much as possible, every step you take feels like success, and going beyond your goal feels even better than that. It’s a system that makes you feel like a winner, because people who feel like winners act like winners.”

Do you feel like a winner?

This concept is directly connected to our Self-Efficacy Machine point from before..

  • But just to reiterate..  People who believe they can almost always do!
  • How do we gain that belief?  First we must do something worthy of our own belief..  (Preferably everyday). 

Let's take a big goal!  (Like lose 100lbs) and break it into daily wins.. 

  • Lose 100lbs becomes take a 5 minute walk every morning.. 
  • Get a promotion at work becomes show up 5 minutes early and organize your day.. 
  • Have a better relationship with your spouse becomes saying I love you and giving them a hug when they walk in the door after work.. 

These goal transformation not only make us daily winners..  (Which makes us a heck of a lot more happy day-day).

  • But it also puts our focus on what we can actually control..  
  • I know it sounds weird but you don't control your ability to lose 100lbs..  You control your ability to exercise and eat healthy. 
  • Why then would we focus so much on what's outside of our control?  Often it's because of fear or guilt..  But maybe that's a longer video!


“Jerry Seinfeld appears to have been a pioneer in mini habits." 

"He famously marked each day on his calendar with a big X if he completed his joke-writing task. He recognized that daily progress was the key to forming a habit and improving his craft of telling jokes."

"He first told young comedian Brad Isaac about his productivity secret before a show one day. Brad wrote about Seinfeld’s response in an article for Lifehacker:"

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

"This is a good summation of mini habits. We don’t want to break the chain.”

What do we do once we have our mini-habits in place?  Create a chain.

The chain could be a check on a calendar, a digital to-do list or anything else you can think of..

  • But the idea here is to give yourself a visual cue of your accomplishments.. 
  • This not only re-inforces that self efficacy piece but it also visualizes our momentum.. 

Remember Newton?

  • Getting things done requires a good deal of momentum.. 
  • Momentum requires stringing a lot of good days together..  
  • Jerry's 'Calendar Chain' is a good representation of that momentum..  

Plus humans have a weird avoidance to breaking chains that we can use to our advantage!

So give it a try: 

  • First what do you want to accomplish?
  • New what mini-habit do you need to get there?
  • Finally let's make the chain!
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