Small Habits – Ladders to Big Progress

This is a guest post by Alina of If you would like to write a guest post for, follow this link.

Over to Alina …..

Your mind needs exercise just as much as your body does, that’s why I think of jogging every day :-)

Humour aside, one of the most precious skills I learned over the years is the power of habits, as agents of change.

You want to make a change in your lifestyle? In your work routine? In your relationships? So does everyone, change is part of life and we need to know how to make it quickly, effectively and as painless as possible, so that it lasts.

While drastic, abrupt and painful changes are sometimes necessary and vital (such as quitting smoking, or ending a toxic relationships), most other changes can be achieved through small, measurable daily routines.

Our brain needs time to connect old things and new ones, and to make it a smooth process. Think, for example, when you first started driving. It all seemed complex, and it required your full focus and attention. You could only concentrate on the road, and the trainer’s instructions. Your brain was on red alert mode. Gradually, with repeated practice, your brain was able to grasp more details of the road, the traffic, the car commands and so on. Soon you no longer needed to look for the gear shift, your hand found it automatically.

As certain processes are learned and known, they become automated, as your mind has set its maps and more brain energy becomes available for other activities.

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. –Bill Gates

I’ve got my own model to take advantage of this truth: Habits In Small Increments (HISI).

If you break new habits into small increments, applied regularly, the pain of dealing with the new and unknown is almost zero. Your mind will accept the new habit, or embrace the new skill in far shorter time and it will become an almost automated process.

You need to get in better shape, but the thought of going to the gym for the rest of your life pushes you into depression? Commit to doing a minimum daily number of push-ups, squats and jumping jacks, and then increase by 20 every week. Put in 10 minutes of yoga and remember to breathe in slowly and deeply 10 times a day. Can doable? You bet.

Never been able to trust your will power and finish up the things you started? Try giving up on, say, sugar, for 7 days. If you feel better (as you should) keep on going.

Challenge your will power muscle in small ways regularly, just for the fun of it and for the self confidence boost it brings; other benefits will start pouring, just like compounded interest on your emergency fund. (You DO have an emergency fund, don’t you? If not, it’s time to start saving a minimum of five percent of your income in an automated savings account. Ten percent is better. It’s just another very healthy habit, and you will thank yourself later.)


Not enough time to read your favourite books, or research your favourite subjects? Keep your books nearby, in visible places, and plan to read at least two pages per day, but do it every day.

Commit to limiting TV time and mindless Internet surfing to a minimum.

Always dreamt of learning a new language, but never found the time, or the money? Use the Duolingo app five minutes a day – I am having great fun learning Portuguese, I’ve always yearned to speak this delicious language and, surprise, here I am doing it with very small efforts.

Will I speak fluently in two months? Perhaps not, but I will surely do it in two years. Time passes anyway, so use it!

There are countless ways in which this model helped me. I quit smoking over ten years ago; I have been a vegetarian for over seven years and even gave up sugar for one year. I included numerous lifestyle changes in terms of nutrition, sports and self-development.

I started writing and set up an educational project for women together with a dear old friend, while being a full time mother of two small angels. All in daily segments, in tiny measurable increments.

Small steps, taken daily, add up to huge progress and take you very far in the long run. They require relatively less time, effort and will power than huge overnight changes.

Prazer em conhecer você. It was a pleasure meeting you. Good luck with your new habits!



Alina is an MBA and International Relations graduate, with a big heart and a passion for helping people treat themselves and the world in a positive and constructive way! She writes on PoZitivistas: A website about inspiring women to build strong character for joyful and confident life


    • Lynne, I am happy you enjoyed it.

  1. Small steps daily will definitely lead to progress. Really good!

  2. you are right
    it’s better to do something slowly and right rather than to run fast and get bad results
    thanks for the reminder

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