Musing 01: Lower Limit Habits > Upper Limit

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Musing 01: Lower Limit Habits > Upper Limit

New musings go out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 AM PST. To subscribe, go here:

This marks the first musing of the New Year. 

Hope you’ve had a great end to your year and an even better start. 

I’ve purposely been a bit slow to start this year as my sister has been visiting from Australia (hadn’t seen her in 2+ years) and I’ve also been in more reflection mode/had to deal with minor flooding (all is well!).

Moreover: I somewhat prefer a slow start to the year because by the time you get up and running, a large majority of people have already lost the awe and joy that comes with the New Year…

… and are back doing the same old thing. 

Regardless: Today’s musing isn’t about that. 

It’s about lower limit habits and upper limit habits and how I’ve been applying the former to crush the first 9 days of the New Year despite starting the year off slowly. 

What exactly am I talking about? Well, let’s start by defining upper limit habits and lower limit habits. 

Upper limit habits: Setting an upper limit on what you’re going to do.

Example: Workout 60 minutes/daily or write 2000 words/daily.

Lower limit habits: Setting a very easy lower limit / baseline standard that you will either meet or surpass. 

Example: 1 push-up a day or write 10 words/daily. 

Most of us are conditioned to set upper limit habits. 

That’s all we know. Each day I’m going to do x, y, z. And on and on we go. 

And personally? 

I’ve done this. A lot. 


Things like 75 Hard, for example, are full of upper limit habits. 

And that’s all cool and well (love it). 

But to start off this year, I didn’t want to set upper limit habits anymore (like I had for pretty much every other year).

I wanted to set lower limit habits instead. 

And the reason why is because I noticed with upper limit habits:

  • You tend to plan them when you’re feeling good and high on life, forgetting that not all days are going to be like that
  • I’m more wired to simply meet the upper limit and never exceed it
  • It can be easier to slip into “robotic mode” to meet the upper limit instead of being fully present to life (i.e. if you have a list of xyz things you have to get done each day, your entire day is pretty much going to be spent doing that which can be useful, but in the process may miss out on the gold of the moment) 
  • Overtime it can start to feel more so an obligation as opposed to a sincere expression of the heart (i.e. becomes “shoulds” and “have to’s” instead of doing x for the love of yourself)
  • Consistency is the most important, but consistency is the hardest and most difficult to sustain because you can push yourself and do xyz for 90 days or whatever, but shortly thereafter you’re back to old habits 
  • There is less flexibility / room for living (x magical opportunity or adventure can arise, but if dead set on xyz, then not any room to take advantage of it) 
  • If I don’t complete the upper limit habit, I lose confidence/trust/power/consistency (tough price to pay and this is really the biggest danger of upper limit habits IMO! After much failure, you start to adapt the DNA of a failure when really the problem is not that you’re a failure, but simply your approach. Example: A lot of people start the year off with big habit goals and when they don’t complete them, they start feeling bad and miserable. Then they color the year with this energy. If they hadn’t set those targets, they wouldn’t feel bad/miserable. All self-inflicted BS)

(Regardless, Upper Limit Habits can still be useful, especially if you struggle with discipline and are likely to give into distractions/bad habits that don’t actually serve you!) 

But with lower limit habits, on the other hand, I find that isn’t the case. At all. Instead with lower limit habits I notice: 

  • I end up doing x for longer than I would’ve otherwise because it no longer feels like an obligation, but a heartfelt expression. This, in return, trains me every day to exceed my standards daily as opposed to simply meeting my standards (huge benefits!)…
  • Consistency is the most important thing to build and lower limit habits make that easy as pie… 
  • More fun and love arising for the process. Not waking up in the morning with dread, but a greater openness to life and more specifically the day at hand…
  • Living life with greater presence…
  • More room for adventure/flexibility…
  • Greater attunement to each day. Some days you end up faced with challenges and situations you couldn’t anticipate (i.e. water pipes bursting due to cold temperature and flooding apartment) that may interfere with your ability to complete your upper limit habits, resulting in a missed day/lack of consistency. But with lower limit habits, you can still get them done. And keep the streak alive and really start to build out very long streaks that builds real momentum and confidence and trust in yourself WITHOUT closing yourself off to the magic of daily life…
  • Increased ability to do more/engage in other positive actions…
  • Steady mood/happiness levels/feeling of being unstoppable (a certain type of confidence develops when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what life throws at you, you will still do your lower limit habits)…
  • And much more magic (like the ability to be consistent for a lifetime, no more sabotaging yourself)!

And it’s for these reasons I decided to screw my upper limit habits and embrace lower limit habits instead for 2022. 

To come up with these, I simply did the following:

  • Set 3 targets / intentions for the year  
  • Asked myself: What are the main habits that will allow me to live the dream and contribute to bringing these targets to life? 
  • Set a lower limit on the habit: If I was sick in bed, throwing up, miserable, and hating life… but wanted to keep the streak alive, what is the bare minimum I could do in this state for each habit? (This ensures we’re planning our habits for our worst day instead of our best day. On the best days, we can easily exceed and crush it. But on the worst days, we want to still be able to continue the streak)
  • Narrow list down to 5 lower limit habits and start following them.

The results?

Well it’s only been 9 days (lol), but for those 9 days I’ve gone 9/9, typically exceeding the lower limit habit so much so that it surpassed even the upper limit ones I had set. 

Not only that, but much greater openness to life and greater coincidences/magic has also started to unfold because I have my eyes more open/receptive to life WHILE also making strong progress on what I want to get done/achieve (best of both worlds). 

(Plus a very deep knowing that 2022 could go completely to shit, but as long as I stick to lower limit habits (easiest thing in the world to do) it will be a success/winning year). 

SOOOOOO with all that stated, I encourage you to give this a go and focus more on building and sustaining consistency instead of trying to do it all, at once and falling victim to self-sabotage shortly thereafter. 

The way to do that is by embracing lower-limit habits and working to exceed them on your good days…

… and maintain them on your worst days…

… all with the goal of keeping consistency alive. 

Do that in whatever area you want to make progress in and you’ll win the year. No doubt in my mind. 

Your friend, 

/tej 

P.s. In the beginning, it feels like you’re not doing much with your lower limit habits (even if you’re exceeding them). But quickly you start to realize the magic they provide you with. For when you’re xx days into the year and almost everybody else has pretty much given up altogether, your lower limit habits are still allowing you to crush it and that’s when you start reaping the rewards of consistency/momentum/confidence/power. 

p.s.s. mini-habits is the go-to book on this topic. 

P.s.s.s. Happy new year! 😀 

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