Perhaps you've seen my business card...

If you found yourself on this page, chances are you found some curious groups of check boxes and followed the link. Hopefully, we got a few minutes to chat about it and you aren’t completely blind to it.

Over the years, I’ve read many books about habits and found many common themes in these books.

  1. Habits make up a huge portion of what we do. Studies have shown that about 40% of the things we do each day are the result of habits…not decisions.
  2. Habits take about 21 days to start to take form.
  3. For a habit to become a permanent life change, you need to do the habit for 60-90 days.
  4. Habits usually have a trigger. That trigger can be something external, like an alarm or traffic signal…or it can be internal like a feeling of guilt or happiness.
  5. The key is to keep track of things you are doing and identify what the trigger is so you can replace your “bad” habits with good habits.
  6. You are most likely to be successful if it is a habit you can do everyday. Going to church every Sunday is not a habit, but praying before each meal is.
  7. Your brain is a terrorist that wants to fight your desires for good habits. Make the war easy by making the habits easy and building them up. Exercising for 60 minutes every day is hard, but getting dressed to exercise and going outside isn’t. Make that the first goal and build from there.
  8. Creating, implementing, and managing habits is a skill. Think of it as a muscle you’re working out. As you get better at sticking to habits, you will get better at creating them and they can get more advanced over time.

How to use the card…

I made my own habit cards in Excel about 10 years ago (if you know me, you know Excel is pretty much my first born), and would print them on card stock paper and cut them out. I made them the size of credit cards so I could always keep them neatly in my wallet.

  1. Choose your first habit: pick something easy and write it into the top box on the car. Start with something easy! I always recommend that the first habit is “check the box.” Yes, that easy. Do this for three weeks then move to step two.
  2. Choose your second Habit: If you did well on your first habit, you graduate it to the middle section and write a new (equally easy) habit in the second box. Check boxes in both sections for three weeks.
  3. Choose your third habit: Again, if you did well on your habits, then everything slides down one section and you choose a third habit to focus on.

On the back of my business card is a spot to write in three habits. To start, I want you to only write on the first line. Choose a habit that is easy, takes less than five minutes, and will give you some benefit to your life.

Your first habit will be the easiest one. I recommend that your first habit is checking the box on the habit card. That’s it. Make that a habit to take out the card to check it off every day at the same time or keep it in a place where you can’t miss it and it won’t feel like clutter.

After three weeks of checking boxes, you are ready to graduate to add another habit. Move your first habit to the second box and pick another habit for line number one. You will now track two concurrent habits at the same time. Once you finish your next three weeks, you will graduate the other two habits up another level and add another so you’ll have three habits at the same time.

By the time you finish three sections, you will have had 63 days with your habit and should be well on your way to making the habit permanent. If it doesn’t feel permanent, then keep the same habits for another week.

Lastly, be RUTHLESS in your pursuit of perfection, but do not let misses discourage you. Do the best you can. I’m sure even dentists fall asleep on the couch watching a movie and forget to brush and floss their teeth, too.

If you’d like a page of cards you can cut out to keep, please email me and I’ll happily send you a pdf with the habits.

Check out the Rhino Insider for an article that gives you 17 habit ideas.