I weirdly accidentally started my New Year’s Resolutions in November last year after realising I’d let myself go. Stress had taken hold and I’d really overdone too many bad habits. I’ve always had a problem with habit momentum. I’m impatient. For things like taking a multivitamin, I’m fine. That’s instant. However, losing weight takes months. I get annoyed if I don’t see immediate results or reach a plateau, I slip back into my bad habits as the good ones dissipate.
However, this time around it feels different. I’ve managed to find a way to overcome my former issues through being overly merticulous and discovering “keystone habits”. These are habits that assist in the development of other habits. For example, if someone takes up running, they are likely to also begin to eat more healthily. This is what my favourite app ‘Lift‘ is all about. It allows you to ‘check in’ with good habits; anything from ‘Take Multivitamin’ to ‘Stop and Enjoy Life’. As you begin to do the smaller habits, you see the bigger ones and begin to do those. I now have around 12 positive habits I do daily – and as a result, I’m eating better, I’ve lost 21lbs and I’m in a much more positive and productive mood.
The second app I use is called MyFitnessPal, where you can log all of your calories and exercise for the day. Luckily, it seems to have pretty much every brand and food on the planet; as more people use the service, the more ‘custom’ foods get added. Even my ostrich burgers from last week were included in their database. It allows you to monitor progress over time, set goals – and see pretty graphs seeing how well you’ve done. It’s become a habit of mine since adding it to Lift, the app mentioned above.
Finally, I have a Nike Fuelband. A wonderfully engineered device that Apple would be proud of. It looks pretty damn cool – and tracks all of your activity; whether it be boxing or running and converts it into ‘Nike Fuel’ points. You set a daily goal you need to hit. The aim is to keep your streak of hitting your goal going as long as possible. The biggest benefit if you get to compete against your friends on Facebook and Twitter. This is particularly motivating for someone of my competitive disposition.
These three things have drastically changed my life. They are relatively simple applications that work with both behavioural economics and positive psychology; both fascinating topics. I first learnt about the former after watching “Lessons from an ad man” by Rory Sutherland at TED. I highly recommend you check it out. For an introduction to the latter, I recommend “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. The book that “Lift” is based on is called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. Enjoy!