If you are super bored, this is a really awesome blog post about how I conducted a scientific experiment on myself to see if I could create a new habit. I apologize in advance that there is only one funny line in this entire post. Here goes…
I’ve been a wee bit obsessed this year with the idea of change. How do you create a new positive habit. How do you stop a bad habit? Why is it so hard to change? How do you make changes that really stick?
Then, my friend, Lara, posted an article on Facebook that really clicked with me. The article said that if you are trying to create a new habit, it’s actually easier to do that new thing every day, rather than a few times a week. If you want to start exercising, for example, try going for a walk every day, instead of Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you do something every day, you eliminate all of your internal arguments about whether THIS is really the day you are going to do that new thing.
So I decided to conduct a little scientific experiment on myself. I wanted to see at what point along my journey to create a new habit do I give up. Is it always after three days? Do I usually make it one week? Is it the 14-day point that I call it quits? If I make it 21 days, have I really created a new habit? Or do I have to do that new thing for 63 days?
The first step in my self-psychoanalysis was to create a cute chart. (Of COURSE! What did you expect?!) I created a chart with 63 little circles so I could visualize how much I had accomplished and how much time was left in front of me.
Next, I needed to decide what new habit I wanted to tackle first. I decided it wasn’t WHAT I did that mattered, but more the fact that I did that thing for 63 days. So I decided to start super simple. I have tried off and on for years to create a new habit of making my bed every day. I thought that would be a great place to start. I also had read that people who make their bed every day tend to have better habits in other areas of their life so that also motivated me to start there.
Here’s what happened:
I found that I had to really focus each day to remember to make my bed. It required thought every morning to remind myself I was trying to do something new. I taped the chart to the wall so I would see it every morning.
The “new” was starting to wear off. I wasn’t as determined to make my bed every day. I still had to remind myself to do it, but it wasn’t “fun” anymore.
When I woke up in the morning and started thinking about my day, the first thing that would come to mind was “make your bed.” I didn’t have to focus anymore to think about it. It was popping in my mind on its own.
I didn’t have to give it any conscious thought anymore. As soon as I got up, I would simply make my bed. If I couldn’t make my bed right away, it kind of threw me off. (I actually made the bed with my husband still in it one day!) 🙂
I’m now in week 5, which is the halfway point of my 63 days. I don’t think about making my bed anymore. I just get up and do it naturally. I’ve also noticed that I’m giving it a little more effort. Instead of making my bed as quickly as possible, I try to make it look really nice. 🙂
A couple of interesting things:
I found that I had the most success when I had a cue and a reward. Each morning, I would start up my electric tea kettle to heat up the water for my morning tea. That was my cue. As soon as I hit the button, I made my bed. My reward is to check the little box on my chart, showing me how many days I’ve done it!
The chart was HUGE incentive for me. About once a week, I didn’t make my bed for some reason. Usually, I had to leave the house before my husband, and he was still sleeping. Instead of giving up because I felt like a failure, I could look at my chart and see all of the other days when I had succeeded. I also wrote myself a note, so I could remember why I didn’t do it that day. This really helped me keep going. In the past, if I messed up one day, it would give me an excuse to stop for good.
In week three, I was feeling so good about myself and my neat bed, that I started cleaning up the rest of my bedroom every day.
Practicing the new habit at the same time every day also made a huge difference. I’ve been trying to start a few other new habits in the meantime. Because I haven’t established a specific time to do the other things, it’s been harder to do them every day.
Making my bed every day has been a small change in my life, but it’s had a big impact on me mentally. I actually feel empowered to change some other habits in my life now that I know a few tricks that help me succeed.
So, what do you think? Have you ever tried doing something new every single day?