The 2-Minute Rule
First of all, just to be clear – please don’t confuse “the 2-minute rule” with “the 3-second rule.” As you probably already know, the 3-second rule states that food which has been dropped on the ground can still be consumed as long as it’s picked up within three seconds. It’s based on the theory that any germs/ants that happen to be nearby require at least three seconds to contaminate the food. This rule has saved me many times (especially when the food being dropped was bacon), but that’s not what we want to talk about today.
The 2-minute Rule is a continuation of our conversation last week about how tiny habits can result in big transformation. As we said before, the key is to “eliminate the resistance” by creating incremental shifts in our behavior. The new habits we implement are so small that they essentially fly below the radar of the blockers that normally prevent us from achieving our goals.
And that’s where our Tiny Habits become Atomic Habits. That’s the title of a book by James Clear – I mentioned before, what he wrote changed my life, both in how I do business and as a runner. In the book, he proposes the “Four Laws of Behavior Change”:
- Make it Obvious
- Make it Attractive
- Make it Easy
- Make it Satisfying
He recommends starting with MAKE IT EASY – which leads us to the 2-minute rule. The idea is: Whatever habit you’re trying to build, scale it down to something that takes two minutes or less to do.
If you want to read 30 books a year, start with reading one page.
If you want to journal, start with writing one sentence.
If you want to be a runner, start with putting on your running shoes every day after work.
It might seem silly or inconsequential at first, but force yourself to stick with it. His argument is: “A habit has to be established before it can be improved.”
One of my favorite analogies he shares is how every action we take is like a vote for the type of person we want to be. By showing up for two minutes a day, we’re consistently casting votes to reinforce this new identity. Or as he calls it, we’re “mastering the art of showing up” – using small habits to prove to yourself that you really are a person with this new capacity.
I know we all want to accomplish big things, but don’t underestimate the power of these small habits. They compound over time – a 1% change in trajectory today has a massive effect in the long run.
And the truth is, anyone can set a big goal. The world is full of winners and losers who all started with the same goal in mind. As James Clear says, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.”
Here’s to setting up a system of small habits that lead to big outcomes.