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April 14, 2024 7 mins

Make sure your daily intentions happen daily

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning,
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is about how not to forget little habits that
you would like to build into life. By being smarter

both about choosing habits and creating cues to do them,
you can keep a streak going far longer than you
might otherwise. I am a big fan of small daily habits.
For the past few years, I've done a little bit
of writing and a little bit of reading something big

every day, well almost every day. I aimed to read
the three hundred and sixty one chapters of War and
Peace one chapter a day in twenty twenty one, and
I did indeed end on December twenty seventh. However, I
also aimed to write one vignette from a character's day

every day in twenty twenty two. At some point in
December I noticed that my numbering was off, and sure enough,
my December thirty first entry was numbered three hundred sixty four.
So I guess I must have forgot on one day. Whoops.
It can happen. But if you do want to do

a big project broken down into daily steps, being as
consistent as possible can help cement the habit. Part of
that is figuring out how not to forget the habit.
How can you be sure that every single day you
will remember to do whatever you have set a goal

to do. Life can get busy. We do what we
absolutely have to do, but sometimes we can lose track
of the things we want to do, or our circumstances
change on a particular day and our normal cues can't
help us. What then, the first step to not forgetting

turns out to be choosing well. When people say that
they have trouble sticking with things, I often bring up
tooth brushing. Many people who claim to have trouble with
habits do manage to brush their teeth quite frequently. Indeed,
they may have multi year streaks going of brushing their

teeth at least once a day, if not more. So.
It's not that they can't stick with a habit, It's
just that to stick with other habits, those habits need
to be more like brushing your teeth. That is, the
habit shouldn't take much time. It should be reasonably pleasant

or at least feel good afterwards. You have a set
time to do it, and if you leave your normal routines,
you take your equipment with you. Ideally, you also don't
view this habit itself as a particularly big deal. It
is just part of life, and when that is the case,

things can run pretty much in perpetuity. Obviously, a great
many habits do not share all of those features. I
like to tell the story of how when I was
on a cruise once the cruise director got up and
told us that all diets were officially kicked to the curb.
I guess he meant that we should feel free to

stop our good eating habits, whatever those happened to be.
But he didn't get up and tell us to kick
oral hygiene to the curb, or that, hey, we were
having fun, so we should feel free to stop brushing
our teeth. Indeed, I think people would have found that
a little weird. No one above the age of ten

or so gets upset about brushing their teeth on vacation.
So if you want to build a new daily habit,
it needs to be like that. Reading one very short
chapter in a big book, or writing two lines of poetry,
maybe meditating for four minutes. If it inspires a lot
of resistance, it probably won't happen, and you will find

ways to forget. But once you have chosen well, remembering
is more about taking some practical steps. You need something
to trigger mindfulness that you intend to do the habit.
One good option is to choose a general time or queue.
Maybe it could be with your morning coffee, Unless your

morning coffee is more of an uncertain thing. Maybe you
could tie it too brushing your teeth first thing at
your desk, and then figure out what the queue will
be on weekends. Since a truly daily it should happen
on Saturday and Sunday too, Perhaps you can set a
recurring alarm and then make a decision. If it can't

happen at the alarm time, you immediately reset the alarm
for a later time when you will make that decision again.
Then it helps to have some way to track compliance.
With reading a big book, this is somewhat apparent. Are
you farther along than you were a few days ago?
Or if you are writing daily entries in a word file,

you can see how many entries there are. But for
some things like meditating, maybe you record somewhere when you've
done it, put it on your to do list for
the day to remind yourself of it. I put rituals
on my daily to do lists and cross that word
off when I have written lines in my poems and
read my ten pages of Jane Austen, which is this

year's project. And yes I will note if I have
done it on weekends too. A weekend to do list
doesn't need to look like a weekday to do. But
you probably have some intentions for the day, so better
to remember them than not remember them. Or maybe you
get an app that will remind you each day to

say you've done something. Most of us do look at
our phones on weekends, just as we do on weekdays,
so you can forget, but it will be harder. In
any case, adapting a new habit can be challenging. Sometimes
we don't feel like doing things, But with some habits,
it's also just possible to forget. Setting things up so

it is harder to forget means that is less likely
to happen, and eventually the habit will become just like
brushing your teeth. In the meantime, this is Laura. Thanks
for listening, and here's to making the most of our time. Hey, everybody,

I'd love to hear from you. You can send me
your tips, your questions, or anything else. Just connect with
me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at Before Breakfast Pod.
That's b E the number four, then Breakfast p o D.
You can also shoot me an email at Before Breakfast
podcast at iHeartMedia dot com that Before Breakfast is spelled

out with all the letters. Thanks so much, should I
look forward to staying in touch. Before Breakfast is a
production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your
favorite shows.

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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