Get weekly newsletter updates from Gretchen.

Podcast 148: Use the Checklist for Habit Change to Master a Habit in 2018–Plus Lots of Holiday Hacks.


Update: Back by popular demand: every day in January 2018, post a photo on Instagram of something that makes you happier -- and tag your photo with #happierpodcast, because it's so fun to see what people post. And tag us -- I'm @gretchenrubin, and Elizabeth is @lizcraft.

Try This at Home: If you want to make your 2018 a happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative year, use the Checklist for Habit Change. To get your copy, go here and scroll down -- or email me at

Here's a quick list of my 21 strategies:


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.) I mention the photo app TimeHop, which I use as a little treat.
  • 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.

Holiday Hack Round-Up: We feature many of the most helpful holiday hacks from listeners -- so many great ideas for making the holidays a happier time.

Here's the post I mention: Resentful? Overworked? Face these painful facts about shared work.

Thanks, listeners, for so many terrific hacks!

Elizabeth's Demerit: Elizabeth has allowed Jack to watch too much TV news.

Gretchen's Gold Star: During my recent trip, as I traveled around London, I studied maps to learn my way around the city better. I plan to do this for L.A., too.


  1. To get the Checklist for Habit Change, go here and scroll down.
  2. If you'd like to check out the Better Than Before Day-by-Day Journal, it's here. It's a journal with tips, strategies, charts, and other tools to help you track and change your habits.

Remember, I do a weekly live show on Facebook called: “Ask Gretchen Rubin Live.”  To join the conversation, check the schedule.

More Episodes For You

icon onward

One Last Thing

Want a new podcast to listen to?

With the same vibe as “Happier,” The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life, made better.”

Learn More

Get My Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here, my Facebook Page, and new original work.