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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 2 million readers. As featured on: CBS, BBC, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Simple Triggers

habits

There’s a pull-up bar at the bottom of my stairs.

My writing space is upstairs, so each time I head downstairs I bust out six quick pull-ups: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. These six take less than twenty seconds, no time at all in the grand sceme of things. Moreover, six pull-ups is easy for me these days. I used to struggle with just a single pull-up, but now I do plenty during my daily 18-minute routine.

But that’s not the point. The point is that each time I go downstairs—on my way to the kitchen or the shower or the great outdoors—I do some pull-ups. One triggers the other. It’s habitual. Now on an average day I sneak in an extra 60-or-so pull-ups.

You see, every habit has its trigger. Most of the time we don’t know our triggers, though, and much of the time we unconsciously trigger bad habits: e.g., finishing a meal triggers a cigarette, arriving home triggers hours of TV viewing, incessant alcohol consumption triggers arguing with loved ones.

We can, however, change our behaviors. Be it exercise or diet or even flossing, we can trigger positive habits—using positive triggers. Small triggers create tiny habits that produce huge results over time. And thus the right triggers can really flip your life upside down—in a good way.

Descending the stairs is one of my simple triggers. What are some of yours?