Do you struggle with building solid habits in your life as much as I do? If I set the bar too high, I fail. If I set it too low, I don’t feel challenged enough. Then sometimes life just comes in and interrupts my flow. It can be hard to get back on track.
Several months ago, my husband and I developed a 1 x 12 Habit Building Formula to better our home life and marriage. So far it’s working perfectly. Here’s how you can start making small changes over time using our 1 x 12 Habit Building Formula.
1. Set Your 1 Goal for the Month
At the beginning of the month, sit down and decide on one (ONLY one for all you over-achievers out there) simple, actionable, measurable thing you want to do every single day for that month. In our case we sat down together and decided to pick the habit that we do the least that we would want the other person do to the most. I hate dishes, so I asked my husband if he would be willing to take care of the dishes, each night. He indicated that he wanted me to try to complete 1 load of laundry from start to finish each and every day.
2. Choose a Time to Compete the Task
Part of developing a real habit is repetition. In this case it’s setting a reminder and doing your one task at the same time every day. If it’s not something that can be scheduled, then simply work to make sure it happens each day.
In our house, each night at 8:30 pm, my husband and I stop what we are doing and complete our one chore and then go about our business. This time is good for us because our preschooler is asleep, we wrap up our task and then we can relax. Thus far, the kitchen has been clean and the laundry is caught up.
3. Don’t Miss 2 Days in a Row
If you miss one day don’t beat yourself up. It’s about developing a good habit. Life happens and you may not always be able to stop at 8:30 and do the dishes one night. The key is never miss two days in a row.
4. Reward Yourself
I’m all about rewards. My husband and I have built many reward systems over the years to get ourselves to do the things we hate. For example, we used to do a Husband and Wife Chore Chart. We assigned monetary value to the things we hated doing the most and when we did them, we checked it off and at the end of the week added up our earnings and cashed it out to our allowances.
More recently we’ve started paying ourselves to go to the gym. We get $1 for every 5 minutes we workout. Up to $12. We go 3-4 times a week usually for 45 minutes so we aren’t breaking the bank but it is good motivation.
Consider giving yourself a reward at the end of the month like dinner at nice restaurant, spa day or getting yourself a new pair of shoes if you can keep the new habits up without missing 2 days in row!
5. Add a New Task
In the second month, add another task. Keep doing your previous task the same as before. In the third month add another task. Keep adding until you get to 12 months and you have developed 12 solid new habits. I’ve created a free printable 1×12 Habit Building Formula sheet that you can add a goal to each month to help you keep track of your goals.
Remember, we are talking about simple, actionable and measurable tasks. For example, if you wanted to get healthy in a year you might decide to do something like:
- Month 1 commit to eat 3 vegetables everyday
- Month 2 commit to eat 2-3 fruits everyday
- Month 3 commit to drink 24 ounces of water every day (or more if you already drink some little water).
- Month 4 commit to track your calorie intake every day.
- Month 5 find a calorie goal and stick to it each day.
- Month 6 exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week.
- Month 7 exercise for 30 minutes 4 time a week.
- Month 8 exercise for 45 minutes 4 times a week.
- Month 9 commit to drink 64 ounces of water every day.
- Month 10 commit to taking a multivitamin each day.
- Month 11 commit to only drink sodas/alcohol/sugary latte’s on the weekends.
- Month 12 commit to flossing every single day.
By the end that year, if you keep doing what you were doing the month before and add on you’ll be eating healthier, exercising 45 minutes 4 times per week and doing other healthy habits to keep your body going strong.
With each habit having well over 21 days to take root, you should be doing pretty darn good by month 12. Just keep it simple and keep it safe! I’m not a medical doctor so whatever you plan to do with your health, talk to your doctor about your strategy first. They may be able to offer recommendations that are best for you.
We are in month 2 of our habit forming and my month 2 goal is to simply track my calories each day on the My Fitness Pal App. My husband’s goal is entering his spending transactions into our budgeting phone app as soon as he makes a purchase.
Overall the strategy seems to be working for us. Every family is different. I find this system easy to follow yet challenging because I’m adding something new on top of what I’m already doing during the next month.
What’s one simple habit you have started that you’ve been able to stick with?
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!