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There’s probably a reason you’re reading through MUO’s “Self-Improvement” section right now. Maybe you want to improve a skill, learn something completely new or make something about yourself better in some way.
Virtually everyone would make at least one change in their lives if they could. So what stops us from succeeding at habit change and creating the lives we dream about?
The answer lies in the goals we hope to achieve with our new-found habits. Many people set vague goals for themselves (though many of us often think they’re specific). For example, maybe you want to lose weight. That’s a goal, but how will you achieve it?
“I’ll go running every other day,” you declare. Still not specific enough.
You need to set very specific habits up for yourself if you’re going to make them work. In this case, create a habit that’s more specific, like:
“I’ll replace my half hour of watching TV after work with a half hour walk.”
By making such a specific habit, you make it instinctual, which is what your habits need to become long-lasting.
If you need some additional help setting up new habits, read on to discover seven great websites and apps to inspire your habit building.
Joe’s Goals (Free, Web)
Starting new habits can be intimidating. Joe’s Goals makes it easy with a simple chart.
List the good habits you want to keep and the bad habits you want to break. Then place a check on each day you completed the good habits.
For bad habits, you only mark the day if you slipped up and repeated a bad habit. The green checks and red x’s create a clear visual of your progress. You also receive a score each day: 1 point for every good habit and -1 point for every bad one. While the points aren’t attached to anything on the site, you could create your own external rewards or just enjoy the feeling of trying to beat yesterday’s score.
There is also a feature called “Joe’s Logbook” to keep notes on your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to eat healthy, you can track the food you ate each day. Journaling about roadblocks and successes with habit change can help you figure out what’s working and what you need to change in order to succeed.
James Clear (Free, Web)
Once you’re on your habit-changing journey, you’ll need inspiration to keep you going. James Clear writes well-researched articles about the science behind habit change.
Download his two free e-books for motivational reading material at the gym. You can also subscribe to his newsletter, which offers two new articles a week only to subscribers.
James Clear also offers live online seminars to his followers every three months.
With the choice of reading or listening, it’s convenient to get inspired throughout your day; and Clear’s research-backed advice will help you succeed at your new habit goals.
Zen Habits (Free, Web)
This is Leo Babauta’s blog about good habits and living a better life. Zen Habits takes a different approach from James Clear. As its name suggests, Zen Buddhism informs much of the content and Leo uses his personal experience with habit change to offer advice to readers.
Since Leo doesn’t suggest anything he hasn’t personally done, he’s a powerful example of everyone’s potential for change.
There are plenty of helpful free articles and e-books available on the website. Readers who desire further immersion in Leo’s methods can subscribe to his Sea Change program for $10 per month.
Sea Change offers a new module each month covering a different habit such as meditation or waking early. You can drop in and out of the program to participate in the habits you’re interested in, and skip without paying for the topics you’re not as interested in. With daily emails and a monthly webinar, Leo breaks down habit formation into easy-to-implement steps.
21 Habit ($21, Web)
If you need more at stake to follow through with your intentions, sign up for 21 Habit. This site allows you to create a personalized 21-day challenge to practice one new habit.
The singular focus makes it easier to succeed by only attempting one change at a time, and you motivate yourself to stay on track by putting down $21 at the beginning of your challenge.
Each day you complete a fast check-in through email or the website. If you succeeded in your habit, you get $1 back. If you failed, you donate $1 to a charity of your choice. Either way, you’re doing something good for yourself or for the world.
Chains.cc ($1.99, iOS | Free, Web)
If you’re really into data, there are a few great apps to help you record your progress through habit change. Chains.cc takes the idea of “don’t break the chain” to a new level with a visually appealing chart that tracks your new habits.
For example, if your goal is to play guitar, your daily success will appear as frets connecting to one another. A running goal displays as a track and healthy eating is depicted in overlapping green circles.
The website is free to use. If you want to record your progress with an app, you can download the Chains.cc app for $1.99. There are also public groups for people with the same goal. Joining an accountability group is a great way to stay motivated and on track.
Download: The companion Chains.cc app for $1.99 (iOS)
Way of Life (Free & $4.99, iOS )
Way of Life promises to deliver lots of data with minimal reporting time on your part.
The website and app have a variety of charts including pie charts and bar graphs. Color-coding is used to differentiate your results. There is also a note-taking feature as well as the ability to share your progress with friends. Way of Life’s free version gives you the ability to track up to three habits. The premium version for $4.99 offers unlimited tracking.
Way of Life will help you with habit change by giving you a bird’s eye view of your behavior. Have you been telling yourself you exercise a lot, but the weight’s still not coming off? You might discover that what feels like plenty is only once or twice a week. Tracking what you actually do with your time can be revelatory.
The Habit Factor ($9.99, iOS | Free, Web)
The Habit Factor is a bestselling book and companion app that utilizes a new approach to habit-formation. At $9.99 it’s more expensive than many similar habit-tracking apps on the market, but offers exclusive Habit Alignment Technology. You can set goals and habits, add a photo for inspiration, track your progress and see the results in a chart.
What differentiates The Habit Factor from its competitors is its two-leveled approach to habit change.
First, you work backward from a goal to identify the habits you need to form to achieve that goal. This is Habit Alignment Technology, based on the idea that habits are inseparable from goals.
Second, The Habit Factor approach fosters an awareness of habit as a powerful force for achieving your life’s dreams. This app claims to change not just one habit but your whole life.
Download: The Habit Factor app for $9.99 (iOS)
Start Building Better Habits!
Now that you know where to get support for your habit goals, what change will you make? Pick one or a few of the resources above and start using them to change your habits and your life.
Which habit did you manage to build successfully? What kept you on course? Give us a look into your strategy.