A habit is something you do repeatedly. So when you want to build a new habit, you need to make sure that you keep repeating the activity you want to install into your life. You need to be consistent. And if you’ve ever tried to install a new habit, you know that this is not easy.
Fortunately there are tools available, which can help us to keep our focus and be consistent. Recently I met personal development blogger Vasco Brazão who told me he was using Chains.cc to create new habits.
Chains.cc is a website where you can create a “chain” for each habit you’re trying to build. You get a calendar where you mark each day that you’re successful with your habit. The more regular you are successful the longer the chain gets.
The idea is that you don’t want to break the chain so you need to keep going every day.
I’ve used a similar technique for building habits before: I put a piece of paper on my bulletin board where I would draw a small calendar. There I would mark each day that I was successful with an X. This helped me to stay focused and reminded me of the importance of consistency.
Also, Chains.cc has got some social features where you can share your chain in the Chains.cc community and form groups with people who follow the same goals. For example “music” chains, “no TV” chains or “meditation” chains. If you want to, you can join me in the “Build Your Business” group that I have founded.
I’m using Chains.cc for my 30 day trial of making offers. And so far I haven’t broken the chain yet. Here you can see how it looks like:
There’s another tool on the web, which is called “Don’t Break The Chain” and which works about the same. It’s more calendar like and basic and has no social functions. However, I like the functions and the design of Chains.CC better.
It only takes a few clicks to create a new chain with a new habit. So does it make sense to add a few more habits? In my experience, only when the habits are different from each other and are not too demanding.
For example, I wouldn’t create two new health habits (like eating vegan and going jogging every day) at the same time because they might influence each other – so you wouldn’t understand the results anymore.
Also, when your habits are too ambitious, they will have a negative effect on other habits. For example, when you don’t manage to keep your habit “write three pages a day”, you might feel discouraged and discontinue your “exercise” habit. Also, writing three pages a day could take so long that you don’t have any time left for exercising.
I’d always suggest to start with one habit and add other habits when your first habit is a little established.
More complex habits
When I work on more complex habits, I usually document more than just whether I was “successful” or not. Especially because successful can be relative. For example, with my making offers trial I also document which offers I made. Another example: When you’re changing your diet you might want to write down what you ate on each day.
That way it’s just easier to understand your experiences and results.
A lot of people post detailed documentations of their habit changes on forums or their personal blogs. One the one hand this keeps them focused and conscious, on the other hand this can have a very motivating effect: People will read what you’re writing – so you don’t only make a commitment to yourself but also to your readers. This positive peer pressure can work wonders. Other people won’t let you break the chain that easily. They will demand explanations when you don’t show up one day.
But the best part of making your habit changes public is this: You will inspire others to do the same. When you manage to not break the chain, other people will start to create their own chains. They will see that it’s possible to create lasting habit changes and they will start to change their own lives. When you’re anything like me, you will find this incredibly satisfying.
So, there are countless tools that help you to not break the chain and to keep going. Maybe one tool is great for your next habit, maybe for the habit after that you will find another one more useful. The important thing is, however, that you don’t break the chain!