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Habitforming / 2014

*Comeplete Habit Template is at the end of the Project!

Habitforming / 2014

A Bit About Me:

Hello!  My name is Vlad Dimitrov and I'm a student at Northeastern University in Boston!

I am a Questioner.  I like to question rules, how things are done and convention.  I don't like working on projects, or putting effort towards something I do not understand.  I am a firm believer in the design philosophy and this drives me to often question if there is a better way to get from point A to point B.  Judging by my frequest frustrations with how the world is and how people function within it, I'm guessing there are many better ways to do many of the things we have just "gotten by" with. 

I am here because I have difficulty getting myself to adopt new habits or to change old ones.  I have grand aspirations that I just can't reach with the way I am living my life right now.  I am looking for a way to design my life that will allow me to clearly, and with focus, go after my goals and what I consider important.  I am easily driven to complete things on time and change behavior when it is for someone else.  I think thats because I love surprising people with innovative solutions or with a change they did not expect.  Somehow, I do not have the same drive when the changes are for myself only.

In recent years, my most successful habit has been the gathering of information and knowledge.  I have a love of learning and the novel and whenever I don't know something, I always go and find more information about it.  I'd say I have a lot of curiosity about pretty much everything!  I am at the point where I can get whatever information and instruction I need, but I need to drive to put all that knowledge into action.

Nessesary Change:

For my new habit change, I am choosing to focus on starting my day right by eating breakfast every day, within an hour of waking.  Currently, I don't eat breakfast at all...I jump out of bed, get ready for work and off I go.  The first time I eat during most days is lunch time, a few stomach-growling hours after I wake up.  Eating breakfast will (hopefully) help me focus more in the morning, give me more energy through the day and help with weight loss and fitness goals.

The Trigger:

After some thought and reflection on what my current morning routine consisted of, I decided on my trigger being the behavior of walking through my kitchen every morning.  As Tiago pointed out in the comments below, the best triggers are something that's connected to the behavior I'm trying to reinforce.  Since I have to go past my kitchen to do most things in my house (including leave the house) this would serve as a good trigger.

The Reward:

I recently opened up a spare-change investment account with a new app called Acorns.  I will use Acorns as a reward to reinforce my habit of eating breakfast consistently.  Every day that I eat breakfast, I'll check off my progress in the Lyft app and also invest $1 in my portfolio.  The more I eat breakfast, the more money will be invested!

As reminders, I have placed a single post-it note on the back of my door that says "Make breakfast!"  It's a place where I can always see it and it will hopefully also act as a trigger to get me to make and east breakfast.  Also, I use an app on my Android called Life-Reminders which I have set up to give me a reminder at 7:15 and 8:15 to make breakfast.  One is for days when I have class, the other for days I have work. 

These reminders might be something that I fade out and eliminate over time as the consequence of a delicious breakfast and other benefits thoughout the day become the natural reinforcers for me making breakfast every day.

Good Intentions:

When I walk through my kitchen every morning after getting out of bed, I will make breakfast because I am the type of person who cares about my health and well being, and values the persuit of reaching new levels of physical performance.

Easy Wins:

My girlfriend tells me I'm not a bad cook.  She says I'm actually pretty good...when I have the time to do it.  I'll believe her!  My ultimate goal is to cook a full, delicious and fresh breakfast every morning.  But that might be too ambitious of a goal to start with outright, even if it's easy and often doesn't require much time.  This is my heirarchy of having breakfast, starting with my end goal:

1. Cook a full, delicious and fresh breakfast every morning

2. Cook a full breakfast the night before (when I am not pressed for time) and leave it in the fridge.  Microwave it in the morning.

3. Make a breakfast with a few eggs and add another ingredient(s) - sausage, ham etc.

4. Make breakfast with only one ingredient such as eggs in a frying pan.

5. Take out a granola bar on the counter.  Grab it on the way out and eat it on the go.

Closer:

The phrase I often find myself saying the most when it comes to eating breakfast (and frankly, many other tasks I want to do) is "I just don't have enough time!"  This is often not true and is a loophole that makes me believe I don't have control over the circumstances.  The reality is that breakfast doesn't take more than 5-10 minutes to make in 99% of cases.  If it takes longer than that, I'm either using too many ingredients, trying something overly extravagant or I'm spending too much time looking for what I need.  An effective closer for me is "You don't find time, you make time."  I can wake up 10 minutes earlier if I need to, it won't be a huge loss to me.  But I have to make the time for breakfast, not try and find it in my hectic schedule. 

Environmental Design aka. Making Time For Breakfast!

The first, and perhaps biggest environment change I can make is to set my alarm 10 to 15 minutes earlier.  I've been so used to waking up with JUST enough time to do everything BUT make and eat breakfast.  Giving myself just 15 extra minutes will give me that time I need.  Other things like making sure I have enough food in the fridge and making sure I don't have to wash any pots and pans (having them clean already) before I make breakfast.  The last two seem like no-brainers but there's often been sitations when I've bought food but it ran out in a few days instead of lasting me all week.  When this happens, I clearly don't make breakfast!  Or not washing pots and pants right after they're used (made worse by roommates!) can definitely deter me from cooking in the morning when I see that I have to clean them.

So my environment changes are:

  • Buying enough food for breakfast to last me all week before I go shopping again
  • Having clean pots and pans by the morning
  • Waking up just 15 minutes earlier.

Tracking and Accountability:

For my tracking and accountability I chose to use the Lift app to track my successes.  Since my behavior I'm trying to change is relatively simple, I don't feel like I need to track non-successes as I'll easily be able to identify why I didn't do it.  On top of that, with my Easy Wins as a fall-back whenever things get really rough, and the environmental design that sets me up for success, I should have no problem eating breakfast every morning!

I believe, for now, that the process of tracking my successes is enough for me to stay accountable.  If this fails me for some reason, I might move up the intensity latter of accountability by either getting a budy or posting my failure online.  Worst comes to worst, I can make someone a bet for money.  Hopefully it will not come to that!

21 Days Later:

Be back soon to report how it all went!

COMPLETE HABIT LOOP TEMPLATE:

Thanks for reading!

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