Hello hello peeps! How was your Thanksgiving? I trust you had a fabulous day, perhaps thanks to the advice in this blog post ‘How to make Thanksgiving a less grumpy and more grateful experience’. I hope you skillfully dodged boring aunt Edna. (If you’re like “huh, who IS aunt Edna?!”, found out here.)
So, with Thanksgiving (and a huuuuge Thanksgiving dinner) just behind us and the holiday season with all its treats in full swing I’m sure you’re wondering how to stick to your good habits... and avoid those bad habits while you’re at it. If you’ve started practicing gratitude and you’re wondering how to make that habit stick (or any other habit for that matter), you’re going to love these tips and the free ebook and worksheets at the end about things you can start doing today to pick the habits that are right for you and implement the right strategies to make them stick. Ya feel me? Let’s dive in!
Related post: How to say no
Pick the right kind of habit (just for you!)
There’s lots of advice floating around on the interwebs about habits. If only we’d do XYZ and stick to that habit, we’d be happier, skinnier, and all around more successful. (You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen those articles and blog posts.) What all those articles and blog posts are getting wrong is that their advice follows a one-size-fits-all script. As if there’s one magical guideline to habit change and that guideline is right for all of us.
The thing is, though, that your behavior isn’t the same as mine. You’re not motivated by the same things as I am. What I consider a reward might hold no attraction for you.
There’s no one, universal way habits are formed and the strategies that make habits stick are different from person to person.
This is good news!
It means that, if you figure out what works for you and what you do and don’t respond to, picking the right habit and sticking to it will be so much easier.
(Side note: That’s why picking the right kind of gratitude practice is so important. Don’t just start a gratitude journal because everybody else is doing it. Pick one that’s right for you. If you need help with that, in Growing Gratitude you can find a list of dozens of different gratitude practices, both written, visual, creative, and physical expressions of gratitude.)
Related post: How to practice gratitude: 8 tried and tested tips
Figure out which habit you’ll be more likely to stick to
To pick the right kind of routine, practice, or system you first have to figure out which habit you’re most likely to stick to. First you have to figure out your tendency. Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before has created the Four Tendencies framework. A Tendency is how you respond to expectations, both your own and those from others.
People typically fall into one of four groups. Upholders respond quickly to inner and outer expectations. Questioners question everything and only act if they believe the expectation is justified. Obligers respond to outer expectations (a work deadline, a meeting with friends, a sports team that meets every Wednesday night) but have a hard time meeting their own (starting a passion project or going to the gym alone). Lastly, Rebels resist all expectations, no matter who’s asking.
Hey, I created a nifty little graphic about this Four Tendencies framework.
If you’re not sure what your Tendency is, just take this quiz and find out. I took the quiz and it showed that I’m an Obliger, which makes total sense to me.
Let's take establishing a gratitude practice as an example of a habit you'd like to start and stick to.
Obligers do things more easily for others than for themselves. For Obligers, the key to forming habits is to create external accountability. If you’re an Obliger, practice gratitude with others. Make it a dinner habit with your family, for instance. Or share your daily gratitude list on Instagram, like I do.
If you’re a Questioner your first question probably is: “Why should I practice gratitude?” Well, I got you covered there. ;) I wrote an entire blog post about it, which you can find here.
For any Rebels out there, don’t sweat it! Do whatever you want. I get it if you’re not sure about practicing gratitude, cause it can be hard! (Nudge, nudge.)
And for all the Upholders in da house, I don’t have to tell you anything. You’re most likely in the starting blocks already and ready to start your gratitude practice.
Can’t wait for that ebook and those worksheets? Download them here!
Strategies that will make a habit stick
You’ve now figured out your Tendency which will help you pick the right habit, system, or routine. The next question is, how can you turn that into an actual habit?
In her book Better Than Before Gretchen Rubin has devised 21 strategies. I know, I know, that sounds overwhelming. But actually it makes a lot of sense. You don’t have to put all of these strategies to practice. You can choose the ones that works for you and for your Tendency.
Curious about those 21 strategies? Here they are. *drumroll please*
Now... narrow down which Strategy is better suited for your Tendency and which Strategy might actually be counter-productive.
Let’s say you’re a Questioner. Then, the Strategy of Scheduling might not be the best for you, but the Strategy of Identity could work well. And the Strategy of Accountability is crucial if you’re an Obliger. (Remember that external accountability?)
Put your habit into action
Et voíla, you’ve created a customized practice and habit, tailored to your needs. The chance of success - of you sticking to your habit - has skyrocketed. I’ve created an ebook (with worksheets included) to help you determine your Tendency and the best Strategies you can use to stick to your habits. Want to get your hands on this ebook? Just click here and it get access to it right away!