Are you thinking about Christmas, or making rash promises to yourself about how you will form wonderful life-changing habits in 2017?
I hoped that the habit log in my bullet journal would be a year-round winner when it came to new habits. I must confess that it has been a total fail. Initially, I thought that if I had lots of habits I’d at least succeed at some. Then I experimented with reducing the number of items to log but just filled in even less. I’ve experimented only doing a chart for part of the month. Looking at it first thing in the morning or before going to bed wasn’t the success I’d hoped for. It resulted in me staying up late to tick things off. Or feeling overwhelmed by the number of habit related tasks. I just can’t seem to remember to look at it, do at least some of the things on it and then fill it in.
How do you make a habit?
The Power of Habit, a fascinating book by Charles Duhigg, tells us that habits form by a trigger prompting a certain behaviour which has a reward at the end (which might be as simple as admiring your newly cleaned surfaces). Part of the issues with my own habits (or lack of them) might be that the habits I’m trying to develop don’t have very visible end rewards. Let’s face it how do you know that you’re up to date with Facebook? Surely there must be someone that you could still connect with? Or a new group to join or a post to comment on.
And I’m a bit vague in what I want my habit to actually be. What does it actually mean to stay on top of my emails and Feedly? Does it mean clearing those messages and posts from that day? Or getting to inbox zero before I go to bed every night?
However, I think the biggest issue is that I don’t remember to fill in the habit chart. I spend a lot of time looking at my daily pages but neglect the habit chart which is on a different page. There’s no one trigger to prompt me to take action on my habit and then tick it off my list. The habits I want to develop take place throughout the day in different locations.
One at a time?
This experiment into developing a number of new habits at one time by David Cain of Raptitude has given me food for thought. The experiment log is worth a read. He sought to develop several new habits at the same time and failed miserably. The reasons for this include not establishing a regular time for each habit, setting low standards for completion and trying to do them all one after the other. I’m wondering if that’s where my issue is too. I’m not really looking at each habit and working out the best way to make it part of my daily routine.
My plan for 2017 is to create a kind of rolling habit chart and look to developing a new habit every month. I’ll seek to tie each habit to a particular time of day or other activity. Right now journal writing is tied to breakfast. My diary lives in the kitchen and I write it while my breakfast is cooking. This habit has become so ingrained that I still write my diary on days I eat breakfast out. Just walking into the kitchen at a certain point in my routine prompts my behaviour.
What habits are you planning to develop in 2017? How are you going to make them part of your routine?
P.S. Carla and I investigated shaking up our routines in early 2016 with our One thing at a Time series