I have this idea that a Saturday post would be a good idea. Comment below if you think so.
It’s been said that 21 days can cure a person of any bad habits. But Nature abhors a vacuum, and in that 21 days successful people create good habits.
Start a good habit today.
Get a calendar that’s big enough to accommodate notes each day. You’re going to post this somewhere you see it every day. You’ll also need a method of record keeping, like a notebook or a cool program like Evernote to keep track of your changes. Recruit someone you trust to be your chief accountability officer (CAO).
Your accountability officer’s time commitment is 5 minutes each day. You check in and review keeping the habit. Your CAO will remind you that you need to keep moving forward, and hold you accountable for maintaining the new habit.
Write your habit in the Notes part of the calendar. The habit should be something that’s good for you, such as improving a work habit, or changing your diet. Now write a short hand version of that habit on each day of the calendar. Write 3 – 5 things you’ll do to ingrain the habit for each of the twenty-one days that you’ll work on this.
This process is the only one that will take a significant amount of time. It’s worth the hour or so of reflection and planning.
Be steady in your process
At a minimum, check off each day that you were able to live your new habit and accomplish the tasks that will ingrain the habit for you. I would write “no sugar,” or “gym.” Both are habits I’d like to acquire, since I’m addicted to the former and keep finding excuses to avoid the latter.
Each day, for no more than 15 minutes: write down what you did and how you felt. You’ll survive if you just check it off. But writing about it ingrains it in your thought process and helps you learn from the experience. Psychological studies show that some kind of record keeping and reflection is the best way to change out a bad habit for a good one and meet a goal, as well as record your achievement. Keep your thoughts in a notebook, journal or sheet of paper. If you use separate sheets of paper, have a file folder to prevent loss. You’re going to need these later.
My friend, Yoshi, used this process to get better at a computer game. He watched his kids play it, took notes of their strategies and methods, and reviewed his own efforts to get better. He briefly reviewed his notes at the end of each day. Soon, he was developing new strategies and teaching his children how to be more successful at the game. He wasn’t able to beat them, but he was able to develop innovative ideas that made his children’s play more effective. In the process, he was also able to build a relationship with his kids, which was another habit he wanted to acquire. He still has the file of his observations at refers to it for other lessons.
At an appointed time each day, connect with your CAO. You can do this with a phone call, a text, or e-mail. My niece, the Formidable Megan, has been my accountability officer on one of my habits, which involved an effort to focus some time each day on the study of spiritual texts. Megan emailed me each day, with the habit in the subject line (e.g. “HAVE YOU READ TODAY?”). After a while, all I needed was the idea of that email, which I knew would arrive at some point during the day, to prod me into reading.
Do this for 21 days. Then do it for another 21. Then for the rest of your life.
Some good reads
On the right side of this page, you’ll see my eLifebrary, powered by Shelfari and Amazon. These are books that I’ve read and am currently reading. Most of them are available for download onto a Kindle. You can also download the Kindle application to your desktop or smartphone, if you don’t have a Kindle. If you get them from the eLifebrary, you support this blog in the process!
Don’t give up
I get a number of blog posts about entrepreneurship, many of them from internet entrepreneurs and bloggers. One from Yaro Starak stood out this week. Click on this link and recognize you’re not the only one who feels like giving up. Maybe that should be your habit: not giving up.