Better Than Before

What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life

New York Times Bestseller

Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat about 40% of our behavior almost daily, so if we change our habits, we change our lives.

But that observation just raises the question: “Okay, how do I change my habits?” Alas, no magic, one-size-fits-all solution exists—you must know yourself, and choose the strategies that work for you. It turns out that it’s not hard to change your habits, if you know what to do.

Book cover of Better than Before

With her signature mix of rigorous research, easy humor, and personal experimentation, New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin identifies the 21 habit-change strategies that will help every reader to create the habits that will transform their lives. In a book that’s bursting with big, provocative ideas, Rubin shows readers how to find what works for them, even if they’ve failed before.

Along the way, Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions—oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore:

  • Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do?
  • Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit, no matter how hard I try. Why?
  • I want to help someone else make a change. But how?
  • Why do practically all dieters gain the weight back—plus more?
  • How quickly can I change a habit?
  • How can I get myself to stick to a new habit?
  • Do the same strategies work for shaping simple habits (like wearing a seat belt) work for complex habits (like drinking less)?
  • Why can I make time for everyone else, but can’t make time for myself?

Whether readers want to get more sleep, eat more healthfully, stop checking their phone, or finish a project, habits make change possible. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.


The Strategy of Scheduling

The Strategy of Scheduling, of setting a specific, regular time for an activity to recur, is one of the most familiar and powerful strategies of habit-formation.

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The Strategy of First Steps

The Strategy of First Steps is one of the three strategies that relate to “the Best Time to Begin.” I mention “tomorrow logic,” which is related to the ever-popular Tomorrow Loophole. The fact is, once we’re ready to begin, the best time to start is now.

The Strategy of the Lightning Bolt

Discussions of habit-change often emphasize the importance of repeating an action, over and over, until it becomes automatic, and such repetition does indeed help to form habits. However, it’s also true that sometimes we’re hit by a lightning bolt that transforms our habits. 

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The Strategy of Monitoring

The Strategy of Monitoring is an an observational strategy. It doesn’t require that I change what I’m doing, only that I know what I’m doing. This is crucial to habit formation, because once I recognize what I’m doing, I may choose to behave differently.

The One Coin Loophole

There are ten categories of loopholes, or for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation. This one is the most dangerous, it always applied and is always true! Beware!

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home office with laptop coffee and notebooks

Resources and Downloads

Find more helpful resources, checklists, and free PDF downloads related to habit-formation.


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