top of page

Rut-Busting: One Degree at a Time

A few days ago, my son said, "Mom, I don't know how to do third grade math. I don't even know what they're talking about." 

My response was clichèd, perhaps, but true, "That's the purpose of school! You're not supposed to know it all at the beginning. Otherwise what would be the point?"

I'm sure I got an eye roll for that. I probably got an eye roll from some of you, too, for proposing a 1-Minute Challenge a few weeks ago... which I completely understand, by the way. 7 minutes over the course of a week? Seriously, what good is that going to do?

The point isn't the activity you choose or the time you spend. The point is the practice of choosing it. In my new book, The Habit Trip, we think about it this way:


     "Goals for ten or twenty years from now begin with a big, unwieldy vision of maybe someday: Maybe someday I’ll have a job I love. Maybe someday my neck won’t hurt. Maybe someday I’ll have time for my art. Maybe someday I’ll live somewhere better than this place. But someday comes-to-be through the minutiae of changes to your daily routine: One refreshed résumé. One plane ticket. One plank exercise every morning. A conversation with a mentor. A sketchbook with colored pencils. An hour spent perusing apartment rentals and job listings in a city that feels more like home.

     "On an episode of On Being, author and religious studies professor Dr. Lewis Newman told host Krista Tippett, “If you think about this in terms of a 360-degree circle, if you’re headed in one direction and you turn only 1 degree or 2 degrees to the right or to the left . . . it may be a very slight turn, but over an extended period of time, if you now walk in that direction, you’ll end up in an utterly different place than if you extend that line outward infinitely. And that sense of turning even slightly . . . it doesn’t have to be a radical, all-of-a-sudden transformation into a new life. It’s actually a very gradual process of recognizing, ‘You know, I need to pay attention . . . and move in a little different direction.’” 


It's about willingness to try something new, to start one place and end up somewhere else—just like third grade. It's a practice of rut-busting, purposely choosing something that makes life incrementally better. And when you pull it off for a week, you realize there are a lot more minutes in the day. There are more things you'd like to do too, and you have the power to choose them—one minute at a time.

Sometimes what you choose feels great and sometimes it doesn't, but you can always turn again, just slightly, one degree further to the left or right.



The response to the 1-Minute Challenge last week was swift and enthusiastic! For this self-selected group, I'll be sending mini-prompts and/or quick questions on Fridays to help you figure out what motivates you and take the next steps forward—never telling you what to do, just asking questions. To join in, CLICK HERE!


Tracy S. won the drawing last week for two, signed copies of  The Habit Trip. That's her in the front, slaying a new pilates move, and down below with her niece. She's a professor and a triumphant cancer survivor. Congrats, Tracy! I'll send them off to you as soon as I have them in my hands!


If you know someone who could benefit from this Monday Message,

please share it with a friend. They can SIGN UP HERE

and get their own Habits on Purpose free download.

Past posts can be found HERE.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page