Three Tips for Forming Good Habits (Like, Tracking Your “Three Good Things”)

carie shermanBy Carie Sherman

Last week I wrote about the three good things challenge, and I must confess: I dropped the ball. Or rather, I keep falling asleep way earlier than I intend. I made it through four days and skipped two. So, I’ll be starting over again this weekend.

(Do you have anything great to report? Share in the comments below please.)

It got me thinking about how we form new habits. Some seem very easy, like finding myself at Starbucks this holiday season to partake of their caramel brulee latte. Other habits, like writing my three good things, are a struggle. So here are a few tips I found on the interwebs that actually seem pretty helpful.

1) Start exceedingly small. Social scientist B.J. Fogg says this should be your first step. Want to exercise in the morning? He says the best way to form this habit is to take the very first step you’d have to take toward exercising. Fogg suggested this writer begin by simply lacing up her running shoes every morning for five days. Want to floss every night? Start by flossing one tooth every night for a week.

For three good things, I imagine this means starting by opening the journal I’ve set my bed. Or intentionally falling asleep (imagine that!).

2) Form a habit loop. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, it’s all about the loop. First you need a CUE, a trigger that tells your brain. For three good things, that could be seeing my journal on my nightstand. The second part of the loop is the ROUTINE, which can be the physical activity (picking up my journal) or mental (recalling the three good things of my day). The final is the REWARD, which is how your brain will figure out if this is worth it. Science said that three good things IS worth it, and I imagine my brain will soon figure that out as well.

3) Believe change is possible. Both Fogg and Duhigg point out that we will sometimes fail. So we have to go easy on ourselves. Find someone to help you. Congratulate yourself on small successes. And above all, believe you can do it. I can write my three good things for 14 days, but now I know I need my hubby to nudge me when I start snoring away and clear my nightstand of candy wrappers and piles of books and magazines so I can actually see my journal.

Do you have any tips for creating new habits? Share them in the comments.

 

 

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