Brock Black : Essential Habits

A Simple System to Create Permanent Habits

Every day I get up at 4:15 am, I exercise, and I wash my dirty dishes. I’ve been trying and failing to make those actions habitual my entire adult life.

After 1 month of using the binder, calendar, reflect method below these habits became easy. After 2 months they became automatic.

This system is so simple, fun, and life changing that I would be doing the world a disservice by not sharing it. If you have been struggling to improve your life get ready because that struggle will end. Whatever change you need to make, you will.

You are going to experience success.

 

1. Binder

The first step is to identify what matters most to you right now. What habit would create the biggest impact on your life? Once you have it identified write out the following.

>> Read examples of my habits.

Why It Works

It works because writing makes habits black and white. You know without question if you met your habit for the day.

It is also an amazing aid in planning and tweaking your habit.

Tips

Binder. Find something to organize your habits. I recommend something physical that represents importance to you.

For me that is a bright red binder. The color red is bold and demonstrates that this is something I take seriously. A binder leaves room to add new habits.

I find that I am more successful when I use something physical over electronic. It also makes it easier to jot down tweaks as I learn what works.


Tweak.
When I first started, the cue and routine looked very different for each habit. As you build your habits you will learn what works. As soon as you learn anything write it down in your binder. When you reflect at the end of the week that wisdom will be invaluable.

For example when I first started and failed to get up at 4:15 am, I added the red to my routine.

Cue: Alarm 4:15 am.
Routine: Can’t turn alarm off until out of bed, must be up within 3 minutes of alarm.


Exceptions.
One morning my wife was ill but started to get up to meet our morning habit. We learned that an exception needed to be added for the morning habit when we are sick. Identify when a habit deserves a free pass rather than a fail. Exceptions are marked differently on the calendar and keep your streak/momentum.

Exception: If social or special event the night before, cue changes to an alarm that is set 8 hours from bedtime. If too sick to do morning routine, rest up, you get a pass (DO NOT ABUSE THIS).

 

2. Calendar

The second step is to mark an X on the calendar when you have met your goal.

If you fail simply write in the square what caused the miss.

Morning Routine Calendar

Why It Works

Just like before and after weight loss pictures, your calendar will increase your motivation by visually showing your progress. Once you get a few X’s in a row you will give everything to keep that streak going. It is crazy how powerful a little X can be, you will see.

Tips

Stay Honest. Your cue and routine in the binder make it clear whether or not you succeed. Respect the binder.

When I first made a goal of getting up at 4:15, on days when I got up by 4:25 I would still mark an X. I was proud, but not successful.

Cheating myself gave me no incentive to get up when I intended. By writing an X instead of explaining my fail, I missed opportunities to learn and grow.


Pass.
My exercise habit is to run 3 days a week. At the end of the week if I have 3 X’s I will mark dashes to keep those X’s connected. Also add dashes for the exceptions identified in the binder. This way the streak and momentum keep building.

Exercise Calendar


Family Calendar.
If your family members want to join the habit with you have everyone use a different colored highlighter. This makes habit building a bonding activity. My wife and I love to see the purple X’s that appear when my blue and her pink X mark the same day.


Last Thing
. Mark your X or explain your miss just before going to bed. That way bedtime becomes the cue for your “calendar” routine. Plus you will find that many habits cannot be identified for success until the end of the day.


Printing Your Calendar.
Here is the website I use to print my calendars. Calendarsquick.com

I like that the calendars are small because I can fit two on one page if I transfer them to word. Less visual clutter on my fridge makes me happy.

 

3. Reflect

At the end of the week review your calendar and any notes you wrote in your binder. Then make tweaks to your cue, routine, and exceptions as needed.

If you have been entirely successful this process goes fast.

Why It Works

It works because the plan, do, review system is effective. You take a guess at a starting cue and routine and then you learn through action. There is no better way to gain valuable insight than by engaging in the activity. The slow and steady tweaks you add over time create powerful well tuned habits.

Tips

Family Meeting. My wife and I reflect together every Saturday morning. We share 8 of 9 habits I currently have adopted.

I cannot speak highly enough about the benefits of creating habits with a partner. Even if it is a good friend or a colleague, having an accountability partner will give you an advantage.

It makes the experience more fun and it is nice to have someone else to share success, failure, and ideas with.

>> Read A Family Meeting That Enhances Habits and Relationships


Update.
If you’ve made changes to your habit’s cue, routine, reward, or exceptions I recommend rewriting or typing up a new sheet. It will make it easier to identify new notes that you write when reflecting in the future.


Power of Habit.
This book will shift your entire perspective on habits, your life, and the world. It is a must read if you are struggling or want to take habit creation to the next level. You have the recipe to change your life which is a great start, this will explain the wisdom behind it.


Completed Habits
. Research shows that 21 days is a milestone when habits start to become easier. At 66 days they become automatic and you can consider them a completed habit.

My system is that after a 5 day streak, it takes 2 misses in a row to revert back to 0. After 21 days, it takes 3 days in a row and I revert back to 21. When I reach 66 I add the habit to my completed list and start working on a new habit. I review the completed habits list each week and if any become a problem I print a calendar and start monitoring again.

 

Start Now

If you want to do this, do it, but start now. If you wait it won’t happen.

Take 5 minutes to write down your cue, routine, and reward. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, you’ll tweak as you go. Print a calendar and take 5 seconds tonight to mark an X or explain your miss. At the end of the week take another 5 minutes to reflect.

After a week you’ll see it’s value and after a month you’ll be impressed with yourself. You will never need to read another article like this again.

You will spend the rest of your life thanking yourself for the momentum you set forward on this day.


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