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New Year—Same You. Better Tools! Or, What’s the Best Way to Cook an Egg?

New Year—Same You. Better Tools! Or, What’s the Best Way to Cook an Egg?

Around this time of year, we start hearing a lot of "New year, new you!" messages. It's common to make resolutions meant to make us happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative.

On the one hand, it's exciting to think about all the positive changes we might achieve in the coming year.

On the other hand, it can be discouraging to remember how we may have tried and failed in the past.

Because the reality is: new year, same you.

So, if it's the new year but same you, how can we make the new year a happier, better year?

Better tools.

People often argue that a certain tool is the "best" tool or a certain approach is the "right" approach. "Make a to-do list!" "Get up early and tackle that hard task first!" "Get an accountability partner!" "Get clear on your 'why!'"

But there is no one "best" way or "right" way—just whatever way works for you.

Some people are morning people, others are night people. Some like a to-do list, some like a ta-da list, or a to-day list, or a could-do list. (Take a look!) Some people need accountability; some resist it. Some people want to handwrite a sentence; others, to click a button.

In my experience, however, people cling to the idea that there's a "best" way, and believe that if someone would tell them the "best" way, their habits would stick.

I know this, because people often asked me, "Hey, Gretchen, in Better Than Before, you write about the 21 strategies we can use to make or break our habits. But what's the best way?"

When I told them, "No, there's no best way, it depends on what works for an individual, we need to figure out what's true for you, etc., etc.," I could see that often, they didn't believe me. They wanted the BEST way.

So now, after I say all that other stuff, I add, "After all, what's the best way to cook an egg?"

And then they understand: There can be no single best way to cook an egg, because it depends on how you like to eat your eggs. Or maybe you don't eat eggs at all!

Or to put it another way: The bird, the bee, and the bat all fly, but they use different kinds of wings.

The fact is, no magic, one-size-fits-all solution exists.

Good news: It turns out that it’s not hard to change your habits, if you do it in the way that's right for you. The trick is 1) to know yourself, and 2) to choose the right tool for you. I've been working hard to develop more tools, so that I can offer a great habit-change tool for just about everyone.

For instance, the Happier app.

The Happier app can help you achieve any aim you choose, you can pursue several aims at the same time, and it guides you to the tool that's likely to work well for you. For example, you might…

  • Read twenty minutes every night
  • Donate to a good cause each month
  • Take medication daily

To help you succeed, the Happier app nudges you to frame your aim in a concrete, measurable way: “Walk 20 minutes every day,” instead of “Exercise more.”

The Happier app also helps you figure out which tool to use.

Happier uses my Four Tendencies personality framework to suggest the targeted, personalized tool that’s likely to work for you. When you sign up, you take the quick quiz to find out whether you’re an Obliger, Questioner, Upholder, or Rebel (or, if you already know it, you can select it). Then, when you set up a new aim, the app suggests a tool that’s likely to be useful based on your Tendency.

But you can use any tool you want to use, at any time. Choose from...

  • Don’t Break the Chain
  • One-Sentence Journal
  • Photo Log
  • Numbers Tracker
  • Accountability Partners

Happier is also packed with tips, hacks, and strategies. It features thought-provoking quotations, know-yourself-better questions, and audio stories.

Plus everyone’s favorite feature: “Spin the Wheel,” where you spin to get a five-minute challenge to give yourself a quick happiness boost.

We worked hard to make it beautiful to look at, and easy to use. This is the app that puts the “app” in Happier!

Also, journals.

While many people love the convenience of an app, some people prefer to write by hand in a notebook. For these folks, I've created a set of journals to help people know themselves better and to stick to their habits.

  • Know Yourself Better Journal: This journal suits people who want more self-insight, but need more direction than a blank page. It offers questions and distinctions meant to help you achieve deeper understanding—and discover ways you might make your life a little happier.
  • Don't Break the Chain Habit Tracker: For many people, the “don’t break the chain” approach is a powerful way to build daily habits, and this tracker makes it easier to maintain helpful streaks. It provide structure and flexibility, with space to visualize progress in different ways, use “pass” stickers if you need to take a day off, and award yourself gold-star stickers to celebrate your milestones.
  • One-Sentence Journal: Satisfying yet manageable, the One-Sentence Journal is designed for those who yearn to keep a record of their lives, but don't have the time or energy to maintain a conventional journal. You might use the One-Sentence Journal to record the progress of a new business or project, to write memories of a child’s first year, to track a course of medical treatment, to note creative insights, as a gratitude journal, or as a food or travel journal.

Most people use a mix of tools. I sure do.

Speaking of teaching questions, like "What's the best way to cook an egg?" here's another of my favorites: "What's the best time to plant a tree?" The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.

The best time to start a happiness project is twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.

I hope the Happier app and products will help you start now. Onward to a happier you in 2022!

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The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t actOur Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.

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