Want to Change a Habit? These May Help

Close up of colored pencils.

Now that my book Better Than Before is out in the world, and people are starting to read it, I’m starting to see a lot of interest in certain resources that I offer.

So I wanted to make sure that everyone knows they’re available.

STARTER KIT: First, I’m getting more and more requests for the “starter kit” for people who want to launch a Better Than Before habits group.

One of the best ways to build good habits (and happiness) effectively – and also one of the most fun ways – is to join or start a group. I love joining or starting groups. At last count, I’d joined or started thirteen groups since I realized this fact while writing The Happiness Project.

Better Than Before habits groups swap ideas, build enthusiasm, give energy and encouragement, and – most important – hold each other accountable. Think AA and Weight Watchers. Remember, most people find accountability helpful, but if you’re an Obliger — and many people are, this is a huge group — external accountability is the key to sticking to your good habits.  Crucial! Absolutely necessary! There are many ways to give yourself external accountability, but a group is one of the most effective. (Not sure if you’re an Obliger, or even what an “Obliger” is? Take this Quiz. More than 120,000 people have taken it.)

Everyone in the group doesn’t need to be working on the same habit; what’s necessary is the accountability. I heard about one (small) group, where one Obliger wanted to be held accountable for working on a writing project, and the other Obliger, unconventionally, wanted to be held accountable for things like getting a massage! This may sound silly, but is actually very wise. We need treats (that’s the Strategy of Treats), and Obligers may have trouble giving themselves treats — and so the answer is external accountability.  If they’re pushed too far, Obligers may burn out — or develop Obliger-rebellion, which can be very destructive.  They often need accountability to help them be kind to themselves.

So, if you’d like help launching a group for people doing a Better Than Before habits groups together, download it here.

DISCUSSION GUIDES: I’ve also heard from people who are talking about Better Than Before in a group.

Some, in a traditional book group. I love book groups. I’m in four, myself.

Some want to talk about it with people from work — there’s a  lot in the book about habits in the workplace, such as the discussion in the “Strategy of Distinctions” about the difference between Marathoners vs. Sprinters, Abstainers vs. Moderators, Simplicity-Lovers vs. Abundance Lovers; also the “Strategy of Other People,” the “Strategy of Convenience,” and so on. And of course, the Four Tendencies is quite helpful to consider at work.

Some want to discuss Better Than Before in a spiritual context — at a Bible study group, at a spirituality book group, for clergy, and the like.  Habits have enormous influence over our spiritual lives, as well as our work life, family life, health, etc. For one thing, as Flannery O’Connor noted, “The things that we are obliged to do, such as hear Mass on Sunday, fast and abstain on the days appointed, etc. can become mechanical and merely habit. But it is better to be held to the Church by habit than not to be held at all. The Church is mighty realistic about human nature.”

I’ve created a discussion guide for these three types of groups. You can download them here.

SIGNED BOOKPLATES: I’ve heard from a lot of people who want to give Better Than Before as a gift, to help someone they know who is struggling with a habit. I’ve also heard from many people who want to give away stacks of the book, to clients, patients, etc. An impulse which I very much appreciate. If you’d like free signed bookplates to make the gifts more special — or if you want a bookplate for your own book! — request them here. U.S. and Canada only, sorry—mailing costs.

CHECKLIST FOR HABIT CHANGE: To my regret, I didn’t think to create this checklist in time to include it in the book. Maybe I can add it to the paperback. Anyway, I created a one-page “Checklist for Habit Change.” At the top, you note the habit you want to master, then use the checklist to see how many of the 21 strategies you can use to change it. (This checklist is probably only useful if you’re reading the book.) Download it here.

I also have one-pagers for Eating Better Than Before, Exercising Better Than Before, Working Better Than Before, and Reading Better Than Before — I expected that the one about reading would be the least popular, but I think it may be the most popular. I guess a lot of people love to read as much as I do.

Are there other resources that you’d like to have? I truly do believe that it’s possible for us to change our habits — even when we’ve failed before. It’s not that hard — when we know what to do.



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