William Liao

December 7, 2021

Start with the smallest measurable step

A common pitfall when trying to adopt a new habit is sinking all of your energy into your efforts, only to find yourself burnt out and unmotivated a few days later. 

In the same way the laws of physics prevent a vehicle from instantly going from 0 to 60 MPH, there seem to be aspects of our biology that prevent us (or at least make it really challenging) from successfully altering our behaviors overnight. 

In his book Tiny Habits, B.J. Fogg — mindful of the need to slowly build momentum towards behavior change — humorously suggests that most people would be better off flossing one tooth a day if they want to maximize their chance of picking up flossing as a habit. 

All jokes aside, maybe he’s right. 

Maybe it is better to start your reading habit with one page a day, not a chapter. 

Maybe it is better to start your running habit by running a minute, not a mile. 

Maybe it is better to start building an income stream by focusing on earning your first dollar, not a million. 

In the short term, you might feel like you’re stunting your ambition or creating unnecessary delays in progress. 

In the long term, perhaps it’s actually the small, achievable milestones you create and the energy you wisely choose to conserve that ultimately allows you to maintain the kind of effort required to accomplish life’s most audacious endeavors and to build durable, lifetime habits.