Getting Better At Forming Habits

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had recently started using the iPhone Lift application. I hope you won’t mind me talking about it some more. The other day, I was listening to an interview with Tim Ferriss, the author of bestsellers The 4 Hour Workweek, The 4 Hour Body and The 4 Hour Chef. He was talking about the challenges of forming new habits. He specifically mentioned flossing his teeth. Oh MY God. This rang so true to me. For over a decade now, I’ve been going to the dentist and been told that I really should floss frequently. Every single time I answered that I be doing it this time. And I believed every word of it. Then, after a few days, I started losing interest, focus and eventually started skipping a day or two.. within a month, I was done flossing, until the next visit to the dentist. How was it possible that this cycle was occurring over and over?

Back to the subject, basically Tim Ferriss said that humans were only good at forming one habit at a time. That rings true to me.

The App That Changed Everything

I don’t know if it’s just me, but even a website or app can make me accountable. For example, I’ve already said that since using the Nike+ app, I’ve become a consistent and much better runner. It ended up changing my life, helping me stay in shape, making it easier to have time to think, relax. Was an app responsible for this? I’d tend to say yes. It made it easy for me to get metrics about my runs, to compare my performances from one month to another, etc.

Using Lift has Taken It To A New Level

After becoming a consistent runner, I’ve now started working on adding new habits, thanks to the Lift app. As you can imagine, I’m adding a new habit about once per month. That makes it easier to focus on that specific habit, on making sure I get it done as frequently as I should. Which ones have I added over the past few months? Here are a few:

-Do something nice for my wife
-Weigh myself
-One soda for the day at most

I’ll knock on wood but so far those have really given me tremendous results. According to the stats, I’ve flossed 57 out of 60 days in the past 2 months. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I’ve never come close to being so consistent. I’m not sure why exactly it works so well because contrary to many Nike+ and Lift users, I am not “connected” with friends so I’m only accountable to myself. That being said, seeing my progress in the app and by email (Lift sends me an email every day) makes it visual which is very motivating.

What’s Next?

I’ve seen a lot of discussions regarding the next generation of apps that help us improve, especially in the health and fitness area. Fitbit helps to monitor how much you walk, others can analyze your sleep, etc. I’m a big fan of these technology tools so you can probably expect me try them out in the near future and I’ll be happy to report…!

Do you use Lift, Nike+ or other apps that help you create and maintain habits? If so which ones and how successful have they been?

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