Episode 25: The One Strategy You Need to Stick to Good Habits

Alright, my friends. It’s check-in time.

We are officially 2 weeks into the new year. How are your new habits holding up?

I’ve been working with some of my clients on their New Year’s resolutions recently, and we’ve talked a lot about habit consistency.

We’ve explored how to stay focused and continue following through on the goals that we set for ourselves.

And one of the tools that’s been especially powerful is the strategy of the minimum baseline.

And since this tool has been a favorite for my clients over the past few weeks, I thought I would share it on the podcast, too.

I know so many of you are working hard to make your habits stick. You’re striving to make those new behaviors second nature. And this strategy of the minimum baseline is exactly what you need to do that.

So if you’re ready to start following through on your habits no matter what, then make sure you give this week’s episode a listen.

You can either stream it here, listen to episode 25 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast on your favorite podcast app, or read the transcript below.

Let’s do this!

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…

  • The concept of the minimum baseline
  • The importance of maintaining daily habits
  • How you can use the minimum baseline to stick with your habits and ultimately reach your goals

LINKS FROM THE PODCAST

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QUESTION: 

Have you ever heard of the minimum baseline strategy before? What habits are you working on this year? How do you stick with your habits? Let me know below!

Transcript: The One Strategy You Need to Stick to Good Habits

Hey friends! Welcome to episode 25 of the podcast. 

Now before we jump into the episode, I want to remind you to get your name on the waitlist for my 6 weeks to success course. This is my 6-week goal-setting course, which is launching in just a couple weeks, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to share this course with all of you.

And if you are a person who has big goals, but you feel like you don’t have time to work on them. Or if you’re a person who struggles to stay focused working on just one thing, because you get distracted by bouncing from one idea to the next. Or if you’re someone who loves to dream big and get started on goals, but you struggle to actually finish them, then you are going to love this course.

So make sure you get your name on the course waitlist. Just head to imbusybeingawesome.com/6weeks – 6 is the number six. So imbusybeingawesome.com/6weeks – all one word – and get your name on that waitlist. When you do, you will be the first to know when the doors open. You’ll be the first to hear about when I’m hosting my free webinars. And you’ll be the first to know about all of the exciting bonuses I’ll be offering with this launch.

So don’t wait. Get your name on that list. 

January Check-in

Alright. It’s check-in time. We are officially 2 weeks into the new year. How are your new habits holding up? Are you following through on the plans that you’ve set for yourself? 

I’ve been working with some of my clients recently, and our conversations have focused a lot on what we can do to ensure that we’re showing up and staying committed to the goals that we established for ourselves this year.

And one of the tools that seems to be really resonating with people this year is the strategy of the “minimum baseline.”

And since it’s been really helpful for my clients over the past few weeks, I thought I would share the tool with you, too. Because I know so many of you are working hard to turn these new habits into regular, daily routines that don’t require that extra push or that extra bit of motivation to follow-through.

We want our habits to become second nature, and we want to stop fighting with our brains to stick with them each day. We just want them to happen naturally.

How to Build Good Habits With This Simple Tool

But before we dive into the strategy of the minimum baseline, I first want to talk with you about habits broadly. 

Because here’s the deal. I. Love. Habits. 

Grab your habit trackers here!

When you can choose healthy habits – whether they’re healthy habits for your relationships, or your job, or your body, or whatever – when you can choose healthy habits for yourself, you have discovered one of the secrets to the universe. 

When you learn how to identify the small daily actions that will get you to your bigger goals, and you learn how to follow through on those habits no matter what, that’s when things really start to change.

Because let’s face it. Every impossible goal that you have is made up of lots of smaller goals. And all of those smaller goals are simply a combination of habits that we work on regularly to keep us moving forward. 

Just think about it. When you’re working toward a big goal, it’s often challenging to just dive in and make that big goal happen overnight. Right? You’re not going to create some impossible goal and make it happen by tomorrow. 

Instead, you need to take that big goal and break it down into smaller more manageable goals. Again, we talked about this back in episode 21 when we explored the idea of setting that impossible goal for yourself. And the idea is that you take that big goal and you break it into smaller goals that you are going to work on over the course of a few months or a few weeks or a few days. 

The Power of Daily Habits

But there is another step involved as well. At that step is taking those smaller goals and breaking them down even further to ensure that we are showing up every single day and making progress forward toward our ultimate end goal. 

So what does that mean? Well, that means creating daily habits.

Writing a Book

Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you want to write a book. Your impossible goal is to have a book written with an editor and book publisher signed by December 31st of this year. 

If that is your impossible goal, then maybe you break it down into smaller more manageable goals. You create the outline. Then you create a proposal and you start shopping that proposal for publishing companies and editors. Then you need to write the book, so you break that down into chapters. And you have all of these smaller goals leading up to that big end goal. 

Now remember, in order to reach those small goals for writing your book, you need to be writing. And not just sporadic writing. You need to be writing every day, and you need to be honing your craft. You need to keep those ideas flowing so you continue moving forward and improving and learning each day. 

And you do that by creating a writing habit. You do that by writing every single day.

Losing Weight

Or let’s say that you have a weight loss goal for this year. And your ultimate end goal is to lose 30 lbs. 

Now, you can break this big goal down into smaller benchmarks to track your progress along the way. Maybe you track it in pound increments – 5 lbs lost, 10 lbs lost, 15 lbs lost. 

But what it really comes down to, once again, are the daily habits of healthy eating and exercise. What are the habits that you create and follow through on every single day? Even when you don’t want to? Even when things are hard? And even when things are busy? What are the habits that are getting you from one benchmark to the next?

Make $100K

Or maybe you are working toward a business goal. Maybe you want to make $100K in your business this year. So then you do the math. You break it down. And you realize this means you need to make $8,300 per month or roughly $2,000 per week. Those are your benchmarks. 

So, what are the different things you need to do to bring in that revenue? What are the daily habits that you need to adopt to ensure that you are showing up and providing value to your clients or customers in order to bring in that income every week or every month? What do you need to do to get you moving toward that $100,000 goal by December 31st of this year?

So again, I cannot stress enough the value of adopting these healthy habits. They truly are the game changers when you want transformation in your life.

It’s All About Habits

Now, I did do another episode on the power of habits way back in episode 6. And in that podcast, we explored some of the concepts proposed by James Clear in his phenomenal book called Atomic habits. 

And if you have not read that book yet, I highly recommend it. I will link to it in the show notes. But in episode 6 we talked about the power of setting tiny habits. And we talked about how impactful those tiny habits can be when repeated over the course of a week, the course of a month, the course of a quarter, and ultimately, over the course of a year. 

Of course, it goes even further than that, because these habits impact your life exponentially as time passes, whether it’s five years, ten years, 25 years, etc.

So again, if you have not yet listened to episode 6, definitely had back to that episode after today’s show, and give it a listen.

Minimum Baseline Strategy

Grab your free habit trackers!

But today, I am sharing with you a new tool that I think is an absolute game-changer, and I find it especially powerful when we are starting or adopting new habits. This is a tool that I learned from my mentor and coach, Brooke Castillo, and it is the strategy of the minimum baseline. So let’s talk about what that is, shall we?

Now, Brooke developed this tool originally when she was working with her weight loss clients, but I have found it to be transformational for all of the areas in my life. So whether you are developing healthy habits or wellness habits for the new year, or you are saving money, or you are writing a script, or you are practicing an instrument, this strategy is for you. 

I am telling you, you are going to love it.

What is the Minimum Baseline

Okay. So what is the minimum Baseline? The basic idea is this. When you are establishing a habit, the minimum baseline is the minimum amount of times per day or per week that you are going to do that thing. 

Just like the name suggests, it is absolutely the minimum baseline. It is the least amount of times that you will do that behavior or follow-through on that habit each day or each week.

Now, studies have shown that when we’re establishing habits, daily habits are often the most powerful. They are the easiest to stick with in the long run because they’re done with such consistency. So as we talk about the minimum baseline, I definitely encourage you to think about how you can apply this strategy to your daily habits. 

But, there are certainly areas where you might apply a minimum baseline to weekly habits or bi-weekly habits or even monthly habits. And we will talk about all of these different scenarios in order to give you some perspective and give you an idea of how this strategy can fit into all of the different areas of your life.

But again, the basic idea is that you create a minimum amount of times that you follow through on that new habit or behavior no matter what.

Why is a Minimum Baseline Important?

So why is this so powerful? Why is this such an important practice? Why am I even bringing it up as a strategy for you to consider?

Well, most importantly, a minimum baseline helps to ensure that you are following through on your habits no matter what. Because as we know, and as we talked about back in episode 6, the more often you repeat a habit, the easier it is to follow-through on that habit going forward. 

It’s easier for you to ingrain that habit into your everyday behavior. It reduces the friction or the argument in your brain about whether or not you are going to do that thing.

Power of Repetition

It’s kind of like brushing your teeth. If you have a toddler, for example, perhaps you’ve had to fight with them on occasion to make sure that they brush their teeth before bed, right? 

But for you, this habit is so ingrained that it feels gross if you don’t follow through on it. And this is because, for you, the habit is completely second nature. You don’t think about it. You don’t have to talk yourself into brushing your teeth. And in fact, when you don’t do it – if that’s ever even happened – it feels terrible. 

But for your toddler, it is not yet an ingrained habit. 

So how can you take this ingrained habit of brushing your teeth — this second nature behavior — and apply it to other areas of your life that you are trying to do more regularly? How can you make your new habits feel like second nature? How can you make sure that you are moving your body each day? Or how can you make sure that you are writing for 10 minutes each day? Or how can you make sure that you are reading a chapter in a book every night? This is where the idea of the minimum baseline comes in.

Because the minimum baseline ensures that you follow-through on your habit no matter what.

Minimum Baseline Basics

Now the minimum baseline should not be huge. The minimum baseline should not be your ideal goal. So if your ultimate goal is to make sure that you work on your script for 60 minutes Monday through Friday, that should not be your minimum baseline. Instead, maybe your minimum baseline might be writing for five minutes each day. No matter what. 

If you do more than those five minutes, that’s fantastic. But even on busy days. And even on the days when you don’t want to. And even on the days when you’re convinced that there’s not enough time. You will get in those five minutes. Because that is your minimum baseline.

So when you’re thinking of your minimum baselines for the habits you’re adopting, ask yourself: “what am I willing to do no matter what? What will I do without a shadow of a doubt? Even on those really tough days.” When you know this, then you can establish your minimum baseline.

Minimum Baseline Examples

So if one of your goals is to read a chapter each day, maybe your minimum baseline is to read two pages each day. If your goal is to journal every morning, maybe your minimum baseline is to write one sentence no matter what. If it’s your goal to sell a certain amount of products each week, maybe your minimum baseline is to make at least two sales calls each day. Or if your goal is to work out five days a week for 30 minutes each, maybe your minimum baseline is to walk ten minutes each day.

So as you think about the habits you want to establish or the goals that you’re working toward, take some time to think about what your minimum baseline is for each of those areas in your life. And ask yourself, what am I absolutely willing to do no matter what? Even when things are crazy busy. Even when I’m feeling exhausted. And even when I just don’t want to. What am I absolutely willing to do? Set that as your minimum baseline.

And again, I want to stress that this does not mean you can’t go above and beyond this number. In fact, I encourage you to go beyond more often than not. 

Repetition is Key

But remember, repetition is key when it comes to establishing habits. Frequency and repetition in small amounts will pay off much more in the long run than going all-in once, burning out, and never returning to it again.

Weekly, Bi-Weekly, and Monthly Minimum Baseline Examples

Now as I mentioned, this strategy also works well for weekly habits, bi-weekly habits, even monthly habits. So let’s talk about some examples for those situations, too.

Let’s say one of your goals is to save money, but you are having a hard time thinking of how to make a minimum daily baseline for this goal. Instead, you might establish a minimum baseline of saving a certain amount of money per week. Or maybe you put aside a certain amount of money per paycheck. 

Or maybe you have a goal of going on more date nights with your partner. And while you would love to have a date night every single week, maybe you create a minimum baseline of at least one date night per month. If you can do more, great! But you will have time together no matter what at least once per month.

Or maybe volunteering every week is one of your big goals. And while you have every intention of following through, you also create a minimum baseline to ensure that you volunteer at least once a month. Again, you can always go above and beyond. You can always do more. But you won’t do less than that minimum baseline.

Why is the Minimum Baseline So Effective?

So hopefully this makes sense. Hopefully, you are thinking of areas in your life where a minimum baseline would be a really powerful strategy for you to start implementing. But now, I want to talk a little bit about why it is so effective. Why is the minimum baseline such a powerful strategy to help you adopt these new habits and make them a normal and consistent part of your life?

And in order to do this, we need to consider why so many of us struggle to follow through on the plans that we make for ourselves. Why is it that we create these big goals or these incredible new habits, but we often struggle to stick with it for more than a few days?

Grab your habit trackers here!

Because as I’ve talked about in previous podcast episodes, it is really important to set these big goals for ourselves. They are what keep us stepping out of our comfort zone. They are what help us grow. And they’re what help us get to the next level in our lives. 

However, when we only focus on those giant goals, and if we slip up or we don’t follow through on one of them for whatever the reason, it can feel really tempting to throw in the towel.

The Importance of Follow-Through

Back in episode 12 when we talked about follow-through, I went on a bit of a rant about my belief that there is no wagon. I don’t believe that you can fall off the wagon. And I certainly don’t believe that this thought, and this belief that we “fell off the wagon,” serves us. 

Because when we think that we fell off the wagon, we make it mean that we have failed. We make it mean that we’ve messed up. And for most of us, we find ways to beat ourselves up because of this.

And when we only focus on making major lifestyle shifts, like working out for an hour seven days a week when we currently don’t work out at all, we are establishing incredibly high expectations for ourselves. While that’s not a problem in itself, as I mentioned, many of us beat ourselves up. We often throw in the towel when we don’t live up to those grand expectations.

But when we create that minimum baseline. When we have that underlying goal that we know we will stick with no matter what, then we can continue shooting for that bigger goal. We can continue sticking with those bigger, more ambitious habits. Because if we don’t follow through on the big goal, we still know, without a doubt, that we will stick with our minimum baseline. We will continue reinforcing that habit.

Minimum Baseline and the Safety Net

In other words, the minimum baseline is kind of like a safety net. Because another reason why a lot of us struggle to follow-through on our habits and follow-through on our goals is that we don’t create a plan. We don’t create a strategy to help us negotiate changes in our schedules or unexpected events that pop up. So our schedule changes and we can’t stick with our original plan, we tell ourselves —”well, the situation is completely out of my control. Clearly, I can’t follow through on this habit that I planned to do today.”

Work Commitments

For example, let’s say you end up working super late, or you need to go to a networking event after your typical workday, and your normal goal is to spend an hour in the evening working on your blog. 

Well, when you get home later than usual, you’re probably exhausted from a long day. Maybe you just want to go to sleep or turn on Netflix. Whatever it is, you’re probably not interested in going back to work on your blog for an hour. And because of this, it’s easy to tell yourself: “Well, I just don’t have that hour tonight. It’s not in the cards, so I’m just going to not do it at all.”

But of course, as we talked about before, good habits and follow-through happen with repetition. Good habits become a regular part of our routine when we do them no matter what. So by having a minimum baseline of working on your blog for five minutes, even though you would prefer to work for an hour each night, you can still follow-through. You can still show up for yourself. And you can still reinforce that habit. Even if it is only five minutes on that particular night.

Minimum Baseline Examples

And again, the same goes for any other habit or lifestyle shift that you are trying to make. 

If you have to work late but you usually go to the gym after work, you can still squeeze in that five-minute walk if that is your minimum baseline. 

If you want to read for 30 minutes every night, but you run out of time, you can still read one page. 

Or if you want to save $200 each paycheck but that’s not in the cards this time around because of an unexpected bill, maybe you can save $5. Maybe you can save $10.

My Minimum Baselines

Podcast Minimum Baseline

In fact, I started adopting this practice for my podcast. 

You see, figuring out how to create this content for you every week has been a bit of trial and error for me. I used to sit down and do everything in one day. I would outline the podcast, I’d draft it out, I’d record it, I’d edit it, I’d write the show notes and the transcript, and I’d try and get everything done in one day. 

And while that does technically work. It’s possible to do it this way. It was also a lot of intensive work all day long. It was basically my entire Saturday.

So then I decided that I would spend 30 minutes each morning adding to my outline. I would do just a little bit each day so that I could move forward. 

But then things started coming up every once in a while. Maybe I would have a coaching call early in the morning. Sometimes I would have to go to an appointment or a meeting. So I asked myself, “How can I ensure that I work on this every day? What can I establish as my minimum baseline?” 

And for me, my minimum baseline is spending at least 10 minutes a day on the podcast. Whether I’m thinking of new ideas, doing research, creating an outline, etc. That way, when Saturday rolls around, which is the day that I do the major work of recording and editing and creating the show notes and designing the website and the freebies, I’ve lightened the load at least a little bit. I’m not sitting down to try and complete all of it all in one day.

Journaling Minimum Baseline

And the same goes for my daily journaling practice. Ideally, I would love to spend 30 minutes writing in my journal every morning. But sometimes, that is not in the cards. Sometimes stuff comes up. Nevertheless, my minimum baseline is to write down each of my goals every morning and to work through at least one model. I work through at least one thought that might be holding me back from making progress on my goals.

Again, in an ideal world, I do more than that. And generally, I do. But, in order to maintain consistency and reinforce that positive habit loop, I stick with that minimum baseline no matter what. 

And if you are not sure what I’m talking about with positive habit loops, make sure that you check out episode 6 where I talk in-depth about strategies to follow through on your habits.

Minimum Baseline and Identity

Now, another reason why I think that this practice of the minimum baseline is so powerful is that consistent repetition helps you assume your new identity much quicker. And when you assume that new identity, that is when you start consistently showing up and following through on your new habit.

Gym-Goer

For example, let’s say you want to go to the gym regularly. Let’s say your big goal is to show up at the gym five times a week for 30 minutes. If you set that as your goal, but you keep finding reasons to not show up – for example, maybe you only have 15 minutes one day so you tell yourself you don’t have enough time. Then the next day, you feel too tired so you skip it. And you have to stay late at work the next day so you don’t go. And all of a sudden, you’re not reinforcing the habit. You aren’t assuming the new identity of being a gym-goer. 

But, when you establish your minimum baseline of getting to the gym and walking on the treadmill for at least five minutes five days a week, and you know that you will follow through on that no matter what, you assume that new identity much quicker. You become a person who goes to the gym five days a week. You become a gym-goer. And when you assume that new identity, you have a much easier time following through.

And the same goes for any new habit. When you create that minimum baseline, and you follow through on it no matter what, you become that new version of yourself. You assume that identity. You are a writer. You’re a volunteer. You are a blogger. You are a person who meditates.

Strengthen Your Willpower Muscle

Again, you can always do more than the minimum. You can always increase the length of time or the number of repetitions or how much you save. But having that minimum baseline is everything. Having that minimum baseline helps you stick with it no matter what. 

And when you stick with it no matter what, you strengthen your willpower. You strengthen your follow-through muscle. And you do that because you practice it every single day. You follow through on the commitment that you make to yourself. You follow through on that promise that you make to yourself. And as you continue doing that every single day, your willpower gets stronger. You strengthen that muscle. And you see those changes unfold that much quicker.

This Week’s Assignment

So as you go forward this week, I encourage you to think about the habits and the goals that you set for yourself. What do you want to be doing on a regular basis? Who do you want to be? How do you want to show up? And as you think about each one, ask yourself: “What is my minimum baseline for this habit? What is my minimum baseline as I work toward this goal? What will I follow through on no matter what?”

Let’s Talk!

Now, if you are struggling to identify your minimum baseline. Or if you’re having a hard time following through on your minimum baseline. If you are battling with showing up for yourself and keeping that commitment to yourself, then we need to talk.

Because I would love to help you uncover those stumbling blocks. I would love to help you find the thoughts that are holding you back. And I would love to help you create the perfect minimum baseline for you to ensure that you move forward and reach those goals by the end of the year. 

Because again, this is what it’s all about. Reaching your goals is not something that happens overnight. It is a daily repetition of small habits that add up to the end result. And it all starts with your minimum baseline. It all starts with showing up for yourself every single day.

So if you want help finding the perfect minimum baseline for you. If you want help uncovering how to keep moving in the right direction toward your goals, sign up for a free session with me. Just head to imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession. All you need to do is sign up for a time that works for you and show up to the call. I take care of the rest.

Quote of the Week

Now before we go, I want to share with you this week’s quote of the week, which comes from one of my friends on Instagram named Miranda. She is @mirandajoleach if you want to check out her feed. And the quote reads:

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”

I think this quote is so powerful and so appropriate for our focus on the minimum baseline today.

So today I invite you to think about your future self. Who are you in one year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now?

How did she get there? What did she do to get to that next level? What are the goals that she reached along the way? And what are the daily habits that she established to help her up-level her life? 

Once you have those answers, then take one further step back. Ask yourself, what are the minimum baselines that she set for herself? What did she stick with no matter what to create this version of herself?

Once you have that answer, you know where to start. You know what you need to do today to start moving forward on your goals.

Alright, my friends, that’s gonna do it for us this week. So tell me, what is your minimum baseline? I would love to hear it! Let me know on Instagram. You can send me a message or share it on your Instagram stories. Just tag me @imbusybeingawesome. I would love to cheer you on!

Grab your habit trackers here!

Also, if you want to keep getting more great strategies to increase your productivity, manage your time, and start living your best life, then be sure to hit the subscribe button on your podcast app now. And while you’re there, would you leave me a quick review?

And finally, do you know of anyone who would benefit from hearing this message? Then be a rockstar and share it with a friend! 

Until next time, keep being awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.

8 thoughts on “Episode 25: The One Strategy You Need to Stick to Good Habits”

  1. I couldn’t agree more! It’s all about maintaining healthy, daily habits. This year, I’m trying to take it one step at a time. I’m prioritizing my health and I’ve been really good about my food intake – less junk food, not eating past 7pm, etc.

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