Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could live an abundant life by investing just minutes a day?
Sometimes you learn something that seems so simple but is quite profound. That happened to me when I was finding ways to lose weight. I read a book called Master the Day by Alexander Heyne which was about using daily habits to lose weight and keep it off. What I learned, however, after reading that book was that tiny, daily habits can mean the difference between success and failure in every part of your life.
What Are Tiny Daily Habits?
Tiny daily habits are small actions that each of us can accomplish in a very short amount of time. For example, brushing our teeth upon waking takes three minutes or less. Similarly, washing our hands before we eat or saying a short prayer before we go to sleep are other examples of habits that take very little time but that can have a huge impact on our health and our lives. Over time, habits become second nature. As Charles Duhigg explains in The Power of Habit, habits repeated become routines. Once that happens, you no longer have to think about them. They are just part of your life.
Why Tiny Habits Can Have Such a Huge Impact
So how can implementing a five minute exercise routine really make a difference in your life? It’s only five minutes of time. Your heart rate probably doesn’t increase that much or stay increased for that long. You might have burnt 20-25 calories. It doesn’t really seem that this tiny habit an make a difference. However, the secret to why daily habits like this work is in their cumulative nature.
Even 5 Minutes of Exercise Can a Huge Difference
When a sedentary individual makes the decision to exercise only 5 minutes a day everyday, they do two things. First, they start a process in motion that will only grow over time. It would be a rare individual who would only stay with 5 minutes of exercise forever. Most will find that even if 5 minutes was difficult in the beginning, eventually it will be easier and that success will lead to more time exercising.
But even putting that aside for a few minutes, let’s pretend that an individual does stick with only exercising 5 minutes a day. After one week, they have exercised 35 minutes. If they continue for one month, that’s 150 minutes. After a year, they have spent 1,825 minutes exercising! If they spend that time riding a stationary bike, they will burn around 20-25 calories each session. Let’s use 20 calories. In a standard 5 minutes of sitting down, an average person burns about 6 calories. This means 14 additional calories burned. Over the course of one week, that’s 98 calories – about the calories in one small baked potato. Over the course of a month, this means 420 calories.
Where this example with weight gets really interesting is when we look at how few calories it really takes to gain weight. If a 5’5 female who is 35 is trying to maintain 135 pounds, they can consume approximately 1889 calories. However, it only takes 25 calories extra a day to put on 5 pounds and only 50 to put on 10. We’re not talking a lot of calories. In fact, just one extra candy kiss a day could mean 5 extra pounds! Now putting this into the context of exercising for just a few minutes a day, this can combat that creep that is so easy to happen. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to truly make a difference.
An Abundance Example
Now let’s look at an area not related to weight, namely money. Living in abundance is a daily practice, not something to long for in the distant future. Tailoring a daily habit to help you live in abundance now can have just a much of a cumulative effect as exercising each day. There are a number of habits you could build and I will give a couple of lists of ideas at the end of this post, but for this example I’m going to use what I do which is spending five minutes in gratitude for the abundance I have now and will have in the future.
To practice abundance, I could write in a journal for five minutes or speak the words out loud in the shower. However, because I am such a busy person, I typically devote five minutes of my exercise time to just feeling and being grateful for my life and my future abundance. I thank God for all my blessings not only that I can see in front of me but also that I feel sure will be mine in the future. Part of my feelings of gratitude includes the trust that I will continue to grow in abundance, and I thank God for that today. Those 5 minutes a day means that I have spent over 30 hours thanking God and feeling grateful for what he will be giving me and my abundant life over the course of a year. Since I have started this practice, I have found that I am a happier, more content individual. I worry less about the future, and I reap increasing rewards each day.
Keeping the Cycle Going
One of the amazing things about daily habits is that once you start them, you really don’t want to stop the cycle. I have an app called Fabulous that helps me keep track, but a calendar can serve the same purpose. Marking out each day when you exercise, you can create an unbroken chain. In fact, I have found that on days when I feel sick or I just have no motivation, I still want to make that mark on the calendar so I reduce my time and my intensity. Even if you can only must 3 minutes or just go through the motions slowly, you’re still keeping up the habit. You can do this!
In addition, once habits become automatic, it is easy to add on another small habit. Maybe you don’t floss your teeth, a practice that has been shown to increase our lifespan. This could be added into your morning routine. Mine looks something like this now:
- Wake up and brush and floss.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Exercise and be grateful.
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
This routine has truly helped me become a happier, more motivated person. It can be completed in 15 minutes with a 5 minute exercise session. But in that time, I’ve made positive strides in the areas of both health and abundance. And I find I have gobs more energy.
Ideas for Tiny Daily Habits
Following are just a few ideas that you can use to brainstorm your own tiny habits. One word of advice though, it’s best to start small. Pick one or two and do those for a couple of weeks until they become ingrained. Then add another. This will give you the greatest chance for success.
Health and Self
- Exercise 5 Minutes a Day
- Drink a Glass of Water Upon Waking
- Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast
- Freewrite for 5 Minutes
- Eat One Meal at the Table
- Spend 5 Minutes Thinking About Your Strengths
- Eat One Piece of Fruit a Day
- Spend 5 Minutes Outside
- Eat One Raw Vegetable a Day
- Eat One Prune a Day
- Brush Your Teeth
- Read 5 Minutes in a Success Book
- Read 5 Minutes of a Success Blog
- Watch 5 Minutes of a Youtube motivational video like
- Spend 5 Minutes in Gratitude
- Spend 5 Minutes Visualizing Your Future Success
- Say a Powerful Abundance Prayer
- Do 5 Minutes of Cleaning in the Room that Needs It the Most
- Throw Away or Organize Papers for 5 minutes
- Do 5 Minutes of Dishes
- Organize One Spot (Drawer, Closet, etc) for 5 Minutes
- Put in 1 Load of Laundry
- Put Away Clothes for 5 Minutes
- Sweep Your Kitchen
- Collect Trash and Dishes for 5 Minutes
- Play a 5 Minute Game With Your Child
- Visualize Your Perfect Relationship for 5 minutes
- Say 1 Nice Compliment Someone in Your Family
- Say 1 Kind Thing to Anyone During the Day
- Work on a Gift List Each Day So When the Time Comes, You have Ideas
The key to all of this is to just pick one and get started. You can make it the easiest to build an early reward. That’s what I did. Also, it is best when starting out to do your habit or habits first thing in the morning. Studies show that we all have more ‘willpower’ in the morning. Therefore, if you get the habit checked off your list, you can feel successful for the rest of the day. Each day when you successfully complete your habit, commit to doing it the next day. Success breeds success. The only thing you have to lose is a chance to build a better life one small action at a time.
I hope that you start building tiny habits from this point on, dear reader.
With much love,
Gratitude Image: Shutterstock
Water Image: Enid Martindale/Flickr