Tiny Habits

I’d been struggling with my exercise routine for awhile now. The problem with my routine was that it didn’t exist. My hours in front of a computer each day were broken up by the occasional walk to the bathroom or kitchen. I’d long been convinced of the benefits of consistent exercise, but being convinced just wasn’t enough.

During a flight home I sat next to a woman who appeared to be in her mid to late forties. Over the course of our conversation the topic of health came up. She was older than she looked and seemed healthier than most folks far younger, myself included. We talked about exercise and the importance of doing something, which was much better than doing nothing.

That conversation stuck with me.

A few days later, I came across several “30 Day Pushup Challenge” videos on YouTube based on the idea of doing 100 pushups per day. I felt inspired to try the challenge – after all, I could see results in as early as 30 days!

There was a problem, though. I could barely complete a single pushup. 100 per day wasn’t going to happen.

I was still inspired, though, so I decided I’d try something else. I decided I would do 4 sets of pushups per day, starting with just 1 pushup at a time.

And so I began.

I used an app called Productive to track my progress and got to work. I set reminders on my phone and completed my 4 sets throughout the day.

I started on October 2, 2017. I haven’t missed a single day since.

In the beginning, my friends laughed. After all, what difference would 4 pushups a day make?

After a few weeks, though, the number of pushups per set began to increase. Soon, I was at 3, then 5.

As of this writing, over a year later, I’m averaging 100+ pushups per day.

This story would have been a great personal success if that’s all that had happened. But it turned out pushups were just the beginning.

Inspired by the progress I’d made after a few weeks I started to experiment with different habits. At first, I tried too hard. I chose habits like “Write for an hour a day” that I just wasn’t able to keep up. Then I reminded myself why the pushup habit had worked – I had started ridiculously small. I stopped the habits that weren’t working and tried smaller ones.

Over time, I expanded and refined my list of habits to over 20, moving beyond health to family, work, and personal growth.

While some habits made a big difference quickly, most changes were imperceptibly small. It’s only as I look back months and years later that I notice the compounded effects

I’ve learned that tiny habits, laughably or even embarrassingly tiny habits, can make a big difference over time.

Now, every chance I get I encourage the folks I meet to start a tiny habit. Tiny habits have made a big difference in my life and I know they can in yours too.

If you’re ready for an exercise habit, start with pushups! Download the Productive app, and add four habits: “Pushup set #1″, “Pushup set #2″, “Pushup set #3″, and “Pushup set #4″. Here’s a link to the video I used to learn pushups form.

If you’re interested in more on habits, pre-order a copy of my first book, Tiny Habits.

Did you find this useful? Send me an email or let me know on twitter!

Jonathan Wold

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Jonathan lives and works in beautiful Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.