Brock Black : Essential Habits

A Family Meeting That Enhances Habits and Relationships

Every Saturday morning my wife and I meet for an hour to discuss our habits. It is a highlight of our weekend because we enjoy talking about what matters most and expressing appreciation for one another and the life we are building together.

It is also the heart of our binder, calendar, reflect habit creation system. I am excited to share how we run our meeting in hopes that you will use it to enhance your habit building and intimacy.

1. Prep

Our rule is that once the meeting starts, we won’t allow any interruptions until we are finished. To enrich the experience we first take Oscar on a walk, prepare food, and light candles.

Then we “water the flower”; a Thich Nhat Hanh technique where you express 3 things you appreciate about your partner from the past week. This sets a positive mood that radiates throughout the family meeting.

2. Reflect on the Positives

To kick the meeting off we share the positives our habits provided us throughout the week. This gratitude helps us value the hard work put into building our habits. It also keeps us motivated for the next week.

Examples:

“I have felt much more productive.”
“My day feels less crazy and I feel like I am in control of my life.”
“I feel better about our lives, we are finally doing the things we always talked about.”

3. Review the Habit Calendars and Binder

We keep a calendar for each of our habits and at the end of each day either mark an X for success or write a reason if we fail.

Tidy_Calendar_October

In the above the blue X’s are mine and the pink are hers. We like to see purple because that means we were both successful.

It’s extremely motivating to see progress and surprisingly rewarding to draw that little X at the end of the day.

After reviewing the calendar we either congratulate each other or brainstorm tweaks to address the challenges we had during the past week. Either way something positive comes out of the experience.

During this step we also review any tweaks we may have recorded in our habit binder throughout the week and discuss them before deciding what changes to make.

4. Review Love Tank

The love tank is something we read about in The Five Love Languages. For this habit we try to fill each others love tank as high as possible each day. Then our partner records a number 1-10. We also write the positives and negatives that affected our love meter for each day on our daily schedule.

Love-Tank-October

We each explain the reasons behind our number and highlight any insights. All insights go into a document that we use to improve each other’s quality of life even more the next week.

Adding the love tank to our life has made our marriage like a fairy tale. When we first started our love tanks were low averaging 3 each week but now I can not remember the last time we were below a 7.

If you want to take your relationship to the next level I highly recommend the love tank and reading The Five Love Languages.

5. Review Daily and Monthly Acts of Love

Each month we write 5 things our partner can do everyday to make us feel loved. We also write 10 things (not mandatory) that our partner can choose to do to make us feel loved even more. During this step we review these as a reminder and to also thank our partner for expressing love in a way we most appreciate.

Jackie-Daily-and-Monthly-Love

These are small acts but they have had large impacts on our marriage.

*Steps 4 and 5 could also be modified to work with other family relationships besides husband and wife. Maybe with a parent and teenager you call it “acts of mutual respect” and the”respect tank”.

6. Review Mastered Habits

During this step we read over our list of completed habits. Completed habits are habits that we have accomplished a 66 day streak with and have become automatic.

We don’t keep a calendar for completed habits like we do with current habits. If we notice any struggles with these habits, we catch it early before a bad routine emerges and monitor it again.

7. Check In

Here we talk about goals that we have, we check in on things from past weeks, and we discuss anything else that is on our mind regarding our life or our habits.

8. Schedule Next Week

Before the week begins we discuss what our plans are for the upcoming weekend and if any meetings at work will keep us from getting home on time during the week. Then we pencil in all of the details.

This step helps us be proactive. For example on nights when we are both going to be late we plan crock pot meals. Also trying to organize social events is a lot easier when you contact people a week in advance! It’s these little tweaks that that make a big difference on quality of life.

If it’s the last weekend of the month we plan out 2 months ahead as best we can, which helps us get reservations for things like camping trips.

Why It Works

I think there are two reasons the meeting is so powerful.

1. Tweaks

We love our simple habit system because it lets us hit the ground running. We don’t get stressed or anxious in the beginning we just take a guess at a good cue, routine, and reward and get started.

We jump in head first, knowing we will fail but learn as we go.

This hour of review and brainstorming at the end of the week allows us to upgrade our habits until we get them nearly perfect.

As a result our habits eventually become extremely easy, fun, and rewarding.

2. Accountability and Fun

Several studies report greater odds (up to 95%) for success when you have an accountability partner. We noticed a trend where we tend to fail at habits more on days when our partner is away from home.

Having someone to share the habit building experience with also makes it more fun. It’s nice to have someone else to share success, failures, and ideas with.

Start Now

If you want to change your life start now. If you wait it won’t happen.

Take 5 minutes to write down your cue, routine, and reward for one habit. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, you’ll tweak as you go.

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

>> Create permanent habits with this simple system.


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