Tag Archives: transformation

Eager to Change Your Habits? This Will Make It More Convenient.

I’m very excited to announce that Better Than Before: A Day-by-Day Journal has hit the shelves!

I really love this journal.

Many people have told me that once they read Better Than Before, they were eager to get cracking on their habits — so eager, in fact, that the process could seem a little overwhelming. So much to do, and to try.

That’s where the Journal comes in handy. By organizing your thoughts, it makes the process much easier.  The Journal will help you identify what habits you want to change, figure out what strategies to use, track your progress — and actually change your habits.

There’s  a lot of tips and information meant to make habit-change easier, plus room to write your own comments. Using the Journal will make it easier to apply the ideas and principles from Better Than Before to your own experience. It’s a companion book that will deepen your understanding.

Many people have told me that the “don’t break the chain” system works well for them, so the Journal’s “Habit Tracker” allows you to mark that chain as you go. (If you want to read more on this subject, it’s in Better Than Before, in the chapter on the Strategy of Starting.)

Don’t worry about starting on January 1. The Journal starts at “Week 1,” and you fill in the dates. So you can start at any point. Remember,  as the Habits Manifesto states, once we’re ready to begin, we should begin now.

One of the most powerful strategies is the Strategy of Convenience. By making it convenient — and pleasant — to keep track of how you’re doing, you make it easier on yourself to keep up with it.

The Better Than Before Journal a tool, and a resource, and it’s also meant to be a kind of memento! Your record of how you’re better than before.

It really is worth tackling our habits. After all, about forty percent of our daily lives is shaped by our habits. Habits shape our existence–and our future. If we change our habits, we can change our lives.

Order now from Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Indiebound

For you library fans and audio-fans…this isn’t that kind of book. For this, you need ye olde paper. To see the inside, click here to watch a quick video I made. 

Have you ever used a journal — or any kind of record-making — to help you change your habits in the past? Was it a useful exercise?

Video: “The Label Says This Snack is Healthy,” and Other Questionable Assumptions.

In my new (bestselling) book, Better Than Before, I identify the twenty-one strategies of habit-formation, and one is the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting.

I’m doing a video series in which I discuss the ten categories of loopholes. I love studying loopholes, because they’re so funny. And ingenious! We’re such great advocates for ourselves — in any situation, we can always think of some loophole to invoke.

Well, what is a “loophole?” When we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes, for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation. However, if we catch ourselves in the act of loophole-seeking, we can perhaps reject them.

In Better Than Before, I describe all ten categories of loopholes; in this video series. I’ll describe them, one by one.

Fifth of ten loopholes: The Questionable Assumption Loophole. A very popular loophole! Consciously or unconsciously, we make assumptions that influence our habits—and often, not for the better. They often become less convincing under close scrutiny.

 

Dramatically changing my eating habits has allowed me to hit my goal weight, so now I can return to eating normally.

If I wait until I’m more in the mood to do it, I’ll do a better job.

It’s ridiculous to pay for a gym/a trainer/a home treadmill/a personal organizer/a financial advisor to help me with this behavior, when I could do it perfectly well for free on my own. (Especially if you’re an Obliger, forming those external systems of accountability are key.)

People who follow strict rules will inevitably fall off the wagon.

This will help me sleep.

If I indulge massively now, I’ll feel so disgusted with myself that it will be easy to be good.

Unless I can sweat for an hour, it’s not worth exercising.

 I’ll just have a few bites. (A reasonable assumption for Moderators but not Abstainers.)

 

How about you? What are some questionable assumptions you’ve made?

Note: Do you get the joke of the image?

My New Book about Habit Formation, as Distilled in 21 Sentences.

Every Wednesday is List Day, or Tip Day, or Quiz Day.

Today: My new book about habit-formation, handily distilled into 21 sentences.

As I may have mentioned, I’m working on Better Than Before, a book about how we can change our habits. It’s at the copy-editing stage now, so it’s really nearing completion — both thrilling and slightly terrifying. (If you want to know when Better Than Before goes on sale, sign up here.)

In each chapter, I identify a strategy we can use to make and break habits.

I was thinking of Lytton Strachey’s observation, “Perhaps the best test of a man’s intelligence is his capacity for making a summary.” So I decided to try to summarize each chapter of Better Than Before in a single sentence.  The entire gist of the book, in 21 sentences.

You may think, “Twenty-one strategies! That’s overwhelming.” It may seem like a lot, but it’s actually helpful, because you can choose the ones that work for you. For instance, if you’re a Rebel, you’re not likely to use the Strategy of Scheduling, but the Strategy of Identity would work well. Or if you’re an Obliger, the Strategy of Clarity will be much less important than Accountability.

Many experts suggest one-size-fits-all solutions for habit change — and boy, it would be great if there were one magical answer that helped everyone. But we’re all different, so different strategies work for different people.

In fact, that’s why the first two Strategies relate to Self-Knowledge…

Self-Knowledge

The Four Tendencies: To change your habits, you have to know yourself, and in particular, your Tendency. (Are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?)

Distinctions: Knowing yourself is so important that it’s not enough to know your Tendency, you must also recognize your Distinctions. (For instance, are you a Marathoner or Sprinter? Under-buyer or over-buyer? Finisher or Opener? Novelty-lover or Familiarity-lover?)

 Pillars of Habits

Monitoring: You manage what you monitor, so find a way to monitor whatever matters.

Foundation: First things first, so begin by making sure to get enough sleep, eat and drink right, move, and un-clutter.

Scheduling: If it’s on the calendar, it happens.

Accountability:  You do better when you know someone’s watching–even if you’re the one doing the watching.

 The Best Time to Begin

First Steps:  It’s enough to begin; if you’re ready, begin now.

Clean Slate: Temporary becomes permanent, so start the way you want to continue.

Lightning Bolt: A single idea can change the habits of a lifetime, overnight. (Enormously powerful, but hard to invoke on command.)

 Desire, Ease, and Excuses

Abstaining: For some of us, moderation is too tough; it’s easier to give up something altogether. (Works very well for some people, and not at all for others.)

Convenience: Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong.

Inconvenience: Change your surroundings, not yourself.

Safeguards: Plan to fail.

Loophole-Spotting: Don’t kid yourself. (The funniest strategy. I love collecting loopholes.)

Distraction: Wait fifteen minutes.

Reward:  The reward for a good habit is the good habit, and that’s the reward to give yourself.  (The most misunderstood strategy.)

Treats: It’s easier to ask more of yourself when you’re giving more to yourself. (The most fun strategy.)

Pairing:  Only do X when you’re doing Y. (Simple but surprisingly effective.)

 Unique, Just like Everyone Else

Clarity: The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to stick to your habits.

Identity: Your habits reflect your identity, so if you struggle to change a particular habit, re-think your identity.

Other People: Your habits rub off on other people, and their habits rub off on you.

Have I forgotten any strategies? Which ones appeal most to you? I’m an Upholder, so I like just about all the Strategies.

Habit-formation is an endlessly fascinating subject. If you want to know when Better Than Before goes on sale, sign up here.

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here. You can ignore that RSS business.

Has a “Clean Slate” Ever Led to a Major Habit Change for You?

In my forthcoming book on habits — the most fascinating subject ever — I explore the various strategies that we can use to shape our habits. Strategies such as Monitoring, Convenience, the delightful Treats, and the hilarious Loophole-Spotting.

One effective strategy is the Clean Slate.

The fresh start, the do-over, or the new year is a crucial time, because it offers tremendous opportunity for forming new habits — but it can also pose great risk to existing habits that we want to maintain. It’s important to stay alert for signs of a clean slate, because too often, we fail to use the opportunity of a clean slate to form a desirable habit, or we fail to recognize that a clean slate is triggering a habit that we don’t want to form.

The slate may be wiped clean by a change in personal relationships: marriage, divorce, a new baby, a new puppy, a break-up, a new friend, a death. Or the slate may be wiped clean by a change in surroundings: a new apartment, a new city, even rearranged furniture. Or some major aspect of life may change: a new job, a new school, a new doctor.

Even minor changes can amount to a clean slate — a change as seemingly insignificant as taking a different route to work, or watching TV in a different room.

One reader wrote: “I’ve always been a regular exerciser, and the weirdest thing happened once my son started taking the bus to school. I stopped. Why? Because my routine was to drop him off at school, then go right to the gym every week day. It was an ingrained habit. Once he stopped taking the bus, the trigger was gone.”

The Clean Slate is so powerful that it’s a shame not to exploit it, and by making ourselves conscious of times of beginning, we can harness these crucial moments of opportunity to forge new and better habits. For example, in one study of people trying to make a change — such as change in career or education, relationships, addictive behaviors, health behaviors such as dieting, or change in perspective — 36% of successful changes were associated with a move to a new location.

So if you’re moving, take advantage of your Clean Slate! What might you do differently in this new environment? And be wary of allowing new, bad habits to form. It’s a Secret of Adulthood for habits: Temporary often becomes permanent, and what we assume is permanent often proves temporary.

Here’s my question for you: have you experienced this? Did you find that you changed a big habit after a major change, such as getting married, or getting divorced, or moving, or starting a new job? Or after a small change? I’d love to hear examples from other people.

Beginnings are so important; in fact, two habit-formation strategies take advantage of beginnings, Clean Slate and First Steps.

Habit-formation is an endlessly fascinating subject. If you want to know when my book goes on sale, sign up here.

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here. You can ignore that RSS business.

Video: Revel in Your Accomplishments.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you never officially sign up for the challenge — we’ve reached the end of 2010! Did you try some of the proposed resolutions? Did they help to boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to Revel in your accomplishments.

Now it’s time to think about the 2011 Happiness Challenge. Join here! I’ve been astonished by how many people have already signed up. Excellent! Studies show that taking an action, like signing up, will help you stick to your resolutions.

Next week, I’ll explain at greater length about the challenge, but bottom line: each month of 2011 will be tied to a theme, and each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution that might boost your happiness in that area of life.

I’m very curious to hear what resolutions are most effective. If you tried a suggested resolution, please consider posting about it — and whether it helped to boost your happiness or not. For example, I’ve been struck by how many people say that the very simple, easy resolution to Make your bed has made a real difference. Surprising, right? But people mention that resolution all the time.

* I’m always fascinated to hear other people’s resolutions, so I loved paging through the resolutions posted on 43Things. I listed a resolution myself: Get enough sleep. My resolution for today: figure out some wonderful way (forgive the pun) to celebrate 1/1/11 at 1:11 p.m. tomorrow. Any ideas? I haven’t thought of anything more original than making #1 cookies.

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
— On the GretchenRubin channel page, after you subscribe, click “Edit Subscription” and check the box, “Email me for new uploads.” Or…
— Go to your main drop-down box, click “Subscriptions,” find the GretchenRubin channel, click “Edit Subscriptions,” and check “Email me for new uploads” there.