The Two-Minute Habit

Sometimes I find myself struggling to start a task. I’m overwhelmed and daunted. I can see the destination, and it appears so far in the distance. Fear and doubt take over, and I want to walk away. The goal is too hard.

Take this blog; for instance, I sat at my desk this morning feeling tired and didn’t want to get started. I have made a commitment to myself, to write something every day. But this morning all I could think of was how hard it is to write something perfect. I was overwhelmed and couldn’t get started.

My fear of failure and desire for perfection was getting in the way of my writing goal. My thoughts were sabotaging the very thing I wanted to do. I imagine that you have found yourself in similar situations where your desire to accomplish something collides in your head with those negative feelings of fear and doubt.

This is a hard place emotionally. We can feel the push and pull going on inside our heads as this self-talk plays out. Then I remembered the “Two Minute Habit” and started to write. This strategy is from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits.

The idea is that you remove any focus on outcome and focus on turning up and do the activity for two minutes. So, for example, you have made a commitment to yourself that you are going to become fitter and more active. You have been going to the gym each day. But today, you can’t face it.

The exercise was hard yesterday, it has been a long day, and you are tired. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you miss one day. Instead of giving in to this negative thoughts James recommends that you go to the gym for just two minutes. You turn up, with no expectation of doing more than that. You have given yourself permission to arrive, get on the treadmill for two minutes and then leave. You may end up doing more, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t.

This is powerful because you maintain your daily habit. You pushed through when it was hard. This builds emotional strength and self-belief that will help you on the tough days to live your dreams day by day. Anyone can do it when its easy but doing it when it’s hard. Well, that’s what separates those who live their dreams from those who merely dream.

Imagine how much you can achieve using the two-minute habit next time doubt and fear threaten you. Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

PS. Want to learn more? I recommend reading – How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the “2-Minute Rule” by James Clear.

Thanks For Reading!

Hi, I’m Luke Bream, the author of this blog, one of the co-founders of Valentte, hillwalker, cyclist, dreamer and an eternal optimist! My writing is focused on learning how we create the life we have always imagined, become the person we have always wanted to be in order to fulfill the dreams and goals we have set ourselves. I believe there is a power within each of us to achieve whatever we commit to mastering. Want to hear more? Read my full story. (coming soon…)

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3 replies on “The Two-Minute Habit

  • Brenda Arkley

    I am 71 and twice a week I walk to the local swimming pool where I do between 50 – 64 lengths (1 mile) I love to swim but I never go there determined to do 64 lengths as it’s a time for the over 55s and can be busy as not everyone swims. I just think I will see what I can do and quite often I do achieve it but if I don’t, then it’s ok too. So in effect I am using the 2 minute rule and it works. Thank you for putting bit into words.

    • Valentte

      Hi, Brenda

      Thank you for sharing your great story. You are an inspiration to us all. I hope with all my heart that I am as fit and active as you are at 71. I love your attitude and your focus on doing the activity rather than the outcome of the number of lengths swum.
      Keep up the swimming and hopefully, you can inspire some friends who are spending a bit too much time in front of the TV to come along too!

      Best Regards and thanks for being a part of our community

      Luke x

  • Renee

    I’ve read your 2 minute theory with interest & intend to ‘give it a go’ Since my husband died,time in ‘big chunks’sometimes seems impossible.I do hope this will help me to move forward.


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