Category: habits

Can you put a price tag on a habit?


Seven years ago, I found a cockroach floating in my coffee cup.

At the time, I was working as an ESL teacher in a crumbling building in a not-particularly-great neighborhood.

Our receptionist’s computer was stolen off her desk in the middle of a work day. Once, our grammar lesson was interrupted by a man urinating against the glass door of our street-level classroom.

I earned $34,000 a year at that job. With a master’s degree and all the debt that goes with it.

It seems strange to credit the creation of one daily habit with getting out of that job, but it’s the truth.

My daily writing habit got me out of that (Fulfilling but exhausting! Extremely underpaid! Sort of dangerous!) job.

And if I look at how much I earned as an ESL teacher and how much I earn now, over the course of seven years …

My daily writing habit is worth $280,000. At least.

That doesn’t include the value I place on the freedom and flexibility that comes with working for myself. That doesn’t include the friendships I’ve made, the trips I’ve taken, the opportunities I’ve had.

That’s just a cold, hard, math-based fact about how much more money I’ve earned because I developed a daily writing habit.

And I bet you have your own version of this.

How much money would you save if you finally kicked your mindless online shopping habits? If you stopped smoking? If you stopped going out for cocktails four nights a week with the coworkers you don’t really like?

How much more money would you bring in if you developed a daily habit of emailing a professional peer? Or spent an hour every morning working on your book proposal?

I realize it’s a little unusual to attach a price tag to a habit, but I’ve found it to be a really effective way to sort of shock me (and maybe you?) into making change.

We all know we should drink more water, take our vitamins, network, charge our phones outside of our bedrooms, but it’s easy to put off change for “some other time” or to underestimate how these good habits could change our lives.

But attaching a monetary value to a habit can shock us into taking action.

Eating more fruits and vegetables could save me thousands of dollars in medication because I’m predisposed to Type 2 diabetes.

Charging my phone outside my bedroom means I’ll sleep better. Sleeping better means I’ll get sick less (and work more + earn more). I’ll snap at my friends, stepsons, and husband less (and spend less on therapy and apology gifts).

You’re smart. You get it!

If my cold, hard numbers have convinced you, I want you to know that the live version of my course Make It Stick Habit School is open for enrollment right now and class starts on March 25th!

What you’ll gain from Make It Stick Habit School LIVE

  • A specific-to-you plan for changing your habits
  • An understanding of why your attempts at habit change have failed in the past
  • Science-backed strategies for avoiding temptation and reinforcing good habits
  • Methods you can apply over and over again, to any habit you want to make or break

You can start to break bad habits+ build good ones today for $97!

After you sign up, you’ll immediately have access to

  • 8 video modules + 17-page workbook
  • audio versions of those lessons so you can listen to them at the gym or in the car
  • Our private Facebook group
  • 4 live q & a sessions
  • Weekly emails + accountability challenges

Truly, these methods helped me develop the daily writing habit that lead to my career, break the procrastination habit so I could get my M.A. while working two jobs, and end my impulse spending habit so I could pay off $50k in school debt.

But don’t take my word for it!

This is the magic formula. I’ve been trying to build a regular fitness habit for a decade, but I wasn’t allowing myself room for any deviation whatsoever. Now I have a whole collection of mini ‘bookmark’ activities that I love to do, so that when I can’t get in a ‘real’ workout, I’m still moving my body every day and maintaining my habit. – Erin G.

I loved Habit School! 1. Because it helped me realize why all my other good habits have slid right off me. And 2. because it actually. Made. Good. Habits. STICK! I’m not kidding you. It just worked, and it made me feel amazing. I’ve been able to replicate that same success over and over, with little habits that I was so discouraged about not being able to accomplish before. It is a whole new way of looking at how you behave, and it has really and truly helped me make steps towards being the Nora I want to be. – Nora M.

This ish works! Class starts March 25th and I’d love to see you there!

P.S. If you want to know more before you commit to the course, join me tomorrow over lunch and ask me all your questions about habits or watch my free, 30-minute video workshop 4 Sneaky Ways To Break That Bad Habit This Year.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Changing Habits Isn’t About Intelligence or Hard Work

Trying to break a bad habit or build a good habit? Click through to read 4 myths about habit change and improve your goal-setting or increase your motivation!

“Ughhhhhhh. Why can’t I break my mindless Instagram habit?!! I trained for a marathon, I paid off all my school debt, I graduated with a 3.9 but I can’t stop scrolling through strangers’ photos? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME I HATE EVERYTHING.”

Raise your hand if you’ve uttered something like this within the confines of your mind!

(Everyone, ever raises their hand.)

Maybe Instagram isn’t your vice of choice. Maybe the bad habit you can’t kick is online shopping, smoking, mean-spirited gossip, leaving a mess everywhere you go, or eating an entire bag of pizza rolls as ‘second dinner’ every night.

Not that I’ve ever done that.

Whatever the bad habit, it’s very possible that you’ve had some version of this conversation with yourself. The conversation where you hold up your accomplishments and wonder why you can do something so seemingly hard – get the dream job, graduate with honors – but you can’t stop stalking your ex on Facebook.

If you’ve ever done that:Good news/bad news: Habit change has nothing to do with intelligence or work ethic. We can’t outsmart or outwork our bad habits. Click To TweetLarry King had terrible spending habits and declared bankruptcy twice. President Obama struggled with a smoking habit for years. Oprah Winfrey has been very open about her challenges with fitness and eating habits for her entire career.

I think we can all agree that the above mentioned humans are smart and hard working.

So how do we break bad habits if we can’t out-smart or out-work them?

I’m afraid the answer is too long for one blog post. It involves motivation, neurology, self-awareness, and developing a process that works for you. (Shameless plug, we cover all these tools in Habit School!)

What I can tell you is three more things very few people are saying about breaking bad habits and building good ones.

3 surprising things I want you to know about habit change

1. There’s no such thing as laziness

What now? Yes. If you’ve ever believed that you’re “too lazy” to break a bad habit or build a good one I’m here to share to tell you that laziness isn’t, uh, really a thing.

What often looks and feels like laziness is actually procrastination, anxiety about the outcome, or confusion about where to start.

Sure there are times that we simply don’t want to do something – who truly wants to empty the dishwasher? – but most of our ‘laziness’ is actually something else entirely.

2. Much of the narrative around habit change is one-size-fits-all

If you’ve ever read a listicle about breaking a bad habit or building a good one, said listicle has probably assumed:

* You’re trying to go to the gym more
* Obsessively measuring + tracking your progress works well with your particular brain
* Using your phone or computer to obsessively track said progress poses zero issues
* You’re already getting eight hours of sleep
* The people in your life are wildly supportive of the habit you’re changing
* You’re not tempted by anything, ever
* What’s a trigger? Don’t know her, never met her

Oh, what’s that? You mean that you’re trying to change a habit that’s NOT weight-loss related? You feel discouraged when you don’t see progress after, like, three days? Using a habit-tracking app on your phone leads you down an Instagram wormhole that just makes you feel bad?

If that sounds familiar, 90% of the stuff that’s written about habit change won’t work for you. (Controversial opinion alert: 90% of the stuff that’s written about habit change won’t work for for most people.)

3. Much of the narrative around habit change, uh, ISN’T TRUE

Fun fact: that ’21-days to a new habit’ stat we see floating around is totally, completely false. On average, it takes people 66 days to truly cement a new habit. And that can vary from 12-265 days! And it’s different from person to person and habit to habit!

So, if you tried to build a new habit for 21 days and it didn’t stick – it’s not that you did it wrong. It’s just that you’re probably only 30% of the way there.

The truth is, habit change is both harder and easier than we’ve been lead to believe. It’s not just a habit tracker app and doing something every day for three weeks.

Like a lot of things in life, habit change is simple; it’s not necessarily easy.  Knowing that you’re not ‘doing it wrong’ is a huge step in the right direction.

Have you struggled to make habit change stick? Or fallen for the 21-days myth? If you’ve successfully changed a habit, tell us how you did it in the comments!

P.S. The wait-list for Habit School is here!

Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

The Truth About Changing For Someone (+ Why It Probably Won’t Work)

Trying to change for someone? It might not work. Click through for habit change tips and goal-setting tips you haven't read before!“I’m sort of shooting myself in the foot here, but no. I don’t think you should buy it. I can’t, in good faith, take your money.”

I laugh awkwardly as my friend squints at me over her laptop.

We’re co-working in a pretty, light-filled coffee shop downtown. I’ve been telling her about my course Make It Stick Habit School and (shameless brag!) how it’s helped people build writing habits, gym habits, better sleep routines – all kinds of stuff.

And her very sweet response was “That sounds like something my husband needs. I’m going to buy it and make him take it.”

I was incredibly flattered that she had so much faith in my methods that she wanted her husband to benefit from them. I loved that she wanted to support the work I do! What a great friend!

But here’s the truth: Change is hard enough when we’re trying to do it for our OWN reasons. It’s DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE when we’re trying to change for other people. Click To Tweet
Think about it. Which is more motivating: Changing your spending habits because you’re ready to live that roommate-free life? Or because your mom keeps shaming you about your credit card debt? 

Is it easier to build a running habit because you know it’ll help you sleep better or because your partner nags you about your blood pressure?

Are you more likely to break your nightly happy hour habit because you’d rather put that money towards a vacation? Or because your best friend makes “jokes” about how you’re a lush?

Sure, we’ve all made choices to avoid shame, embarrassment, or nagging. This is why I dig all my chip crumbs out of the dip before Kenny gets home from work! And why he speed cleans for an hour before I get home from any trip!

But.
Making big changes to our daily lives from a place of obligation or negativity is unsustainable. We can’t shame ourselves into lasting change. Click To Tweet

This is why I wouldn’t let me friend buy my class for her husband; I knew it wouldn’t work for him.

In fact, in the ‘before we get started’ module of Make It Stick Habit School, we talk about choosing one habit to work on for the next six weeks. Then we double – and triple! – check that we’re all changing these habits for the right reasons.

Because our friends are doing it? Nope.
Because our partner gets annoyed about it? Nah-uh.
Because our parents wish we would? Keep going.

But a change we really, truly want to make? That we’re excited about? Ding ding ding! There we go! That’s a habit worth changing!

Change that sticks is change that’s motivated by self-love and commitment and an understanding of how we’ll benefit. We need this understanding to fall back on when we’re tempted to skip our daily meditation or swing through Target for some mindless shopping. Shame and obligation make for poor support systems.

And if you can’t find way to get excited about changing something you ‘should’ change? Take a step back and give yourself some space. Life is long and no one has to be great at everything. You’re allowed to change the things you want to change and leave some parts of your life gloriously un-perfected.

I want to hear from you! Have you ever tried to change something or make/break a habit out of shame or obligation? How’d that go?

Photo by Charles Etoroma on Unsplash

When To Start A New Habit (and when to keep plugging away at the old ones)

Wondering when to start a new habit? Or if you should keeping working on solidifying an old one? Click through for tips on goal setting, building good habits and breaking bad ones!

I see the question pop into the chat box, followed immediately by three thumbs up emojis.

And then a “Yeah, I was wondering that, too!”

And a “YESSSSS.”

Which is how I realized I should probably write a blog post answering one of the most common questions I get when I talk + teach about habits.

One of the most common questions I get from Make It Stick Habit School students (enrollment for the live version opens March 19th!) is “How will I know that I’ve built my habit? How will I know that it’s ‘done’ and I can move on the next one?”

Which is a great question, right? Because we all want to believe that if we do our morning pages or work out or drink green tea for, like, five days we have a new habit!

But that’s not how it works. If you’re wondering when to start a new habit – or if should keep strengthening an older one – this post is for you.

When To Start A New Habit (+ when to keep plugging away at the old ones)

1. When in doubt, work on your new habit for longer than you think you need to

Have you ever done that thing where you do something good or productive for, like, seven days in a row and then you high five yourself over your new habit? And then you take on another new habit on day eight?

Yeah! Me, too! That’s called “The first two weeks of January, 2002 – 2015”.

It feels good to tell ourselves that a habit is ‘done’ or that it’s solidified! But the truth is that ‘21-days-to-a-new-habit’ thing is total B.S. Psychologists says it’s actually closer to 66 days. And it can vary from 12 days to 265 days (!!!) depending on the person and the habit.

When we tell ourselves that our tender, fragile new habit is firm and ready to face the challenges and temptations of the real world, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

So here’s my rule of thumb: work on one new habit at a time, for at least 65 days. If you’re not sure if your new habit ‘took’? Work on it even longer.

Habits – just like most things in life – take longer than we’d like. In fact, a truism I’ve come to accept is: Pretty much everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as we’d like. But if we know that we can budget our time, money, and energy accordingly. Click To Tweet

2. You’ll know your new habit is ‘set’ when your life feels weird without it

I have a nearly-set-in-stone set of morning habits. I’ve been doing them for so long that if I miss one of the habits I feel off balance and incomplete. If I don’t read fiction on the couch? If I don’t make my bed? WHO AM I EVEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.

That awkward incomplete feeling? That’s how you know that a habit is ‘set’ and that it’s truly taken root in your life.

If you feel strange when if you don’t meditate, don’t text your mom, don’t drink a big glass of water with every meal – congrats! You’ve developed a habit that’s part of your life. Go forth and prosper! Enjoy the benefits of a nearly-on-autopilot habit what will make your life awesome without you having to think about it!

But if you feel sneaky or relieved when you skip a habit – like you’re getting away with something – that means you’ve got a ways to go before it’s really part of you life.

But I want to hear from you! Do you try to convince yourself that a habit is solidified way too early? What habit are you working on right now? I’m ‘saving’ my habit for the next round of Habit School so I can work on it alongside everybody!

P.S. How to strengthen your good habit muscle!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

8 relationship habits that will make everything easier, smoother, and more fun

Can you turn being a good partner into a habit? Are there such things as “good relationship habits”? Yes! Click through to read about eight of them!

Can you make it a habit to be a good partner? Are there such things as “good relationship habits”? (I can hear you being skeptical from all the way over here.) 

You might be sick of hearing me talk about habits by now (not stopping anytime soon!), but I truly believe that they’re one of the secrets to a life well-lived. Studies vary, but psychologists and neurologists estimate that between 40 and 95% of what we do every day is habitualized – including how we interact with our partners.

So it stands to reason that building even one good relationship habit (or breaking a bad one), could have a big impact on your relationship. If you’re not sure where to start, read on!

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The Secret To Getting What You Want Is Asking For It (Here’s How)

Not sure how to ask for what you want? Looking for goal-setting advice or tips for chasing your dreams? Click through for self-development tips you won't read elsewhere!
When Jen’s email pings into my inbox, my first reaction is to lean back and squint.


I’ve asked Jen for feedback on the course she just took and I’m expecting/hoping for a few kind words, some constructive criticism, and maybe some hard numbers if she’s willing to share them. Some numbers in the low four figures.

That’s what I was expecting.

Instead, Jen told me that my course had given her the courage to negotiate a 12,000 raise. That’s almost $14,000 for us Yanks! Whaaaaaaaat?!

And while I am, of course, happy that Bank Boost nudged Jen to negotiate for a bigger salary, the truth is this: Jen got what she wanted because she asked for it.

There are a million blog posts bouncing around the internet that tell us how to reach goals, manifest our dreams, and change our habits. (I know this because I write a lot of those blog posts.)

Many of these blog posts walk us through the art of getting clear on what we want, breaking our goals into teeny, tiny steps, and working towards what we want on a consistent basis. And these are all important parts of getting what we want.

But. None of that means anything if we’re not willing to ask for it. Let's say you want to get into an amazing party. Breaking goals into little pieces is walking up the sidewalk, asking for what you want is knocking on the door. Click To Tweet

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