I’m stubborn and it’s hard for me to change.
We can have the best of intentions, but if we can’t make healthy habits stick, the results will always be the same.
Apply this to any habit you might be trying to create: updating social media on a regular basis, finding time to focus on writing, sending invoices every week, working out 3x per week, drinking more water.
Flossing every night.
Yes, at 46 years old, I had still not been able to create a nightly habit of flossing. I make my preschooler do it every night, and so, feeling guilty at not being a proper role model, and being sick of every single 6 month dentist visit ending in a lecture, this stubborn girl finally made it happen.
Well, what do stubborn people often need? To prove their point.
After my last dentist visit six months ago, I issued myself a data-driven challenge:
I will floss every night until my next dental visit and see if she can tell the difference.
This was purely a scientific experiment, a competition in which I would know if I was right or wrong.
In order to not “skew the results,” I had to do it every night. Even when I didn’t feel like it. Even when I was tired. Even when I thought I could cheat.
“You can’t prove the theory right or wrong with biased data,” I told myself. See, stubbornness has it benefits.
And what happened? I stayed mum at my recent dentist visit. After cleaning, the hygienist remarked, “Wow, your gums are in great shape. No bleeding! Things look really healthy in there.”
So… I had proved that flossing does make a difference.
But more than: After doing something for approximately 182 days, for whatever reason, solidified this habit. I literally cannot go to sleep now without flossing!
When you look at a habit as a scientific experiment or a challenge, this can awaken a more logical side of your brain (totally not a neuroscientist here, but this is my theory). For me, I activated my curiosity and competitiveness. If I could prove once and for all whether flossing every night really impacted my dental health, then I could put this issue to bed forever.
Next time you want to create a habit in your life, think about it as a personal challenge. Approach it logically, gather the data and aim to prove someone WRONG. (Tweet this!)
Experts tell you to post on Instagram 3x a week comment on 90 other posts daily? Give it a shot for 3 months just to prove them wrong.
Experts tell you to eat more oatmeal to lower your cholesterol. Give it a shot for 3 months just to prove them wrong.
And yet another great option to create good habits: Try out Sarah Von Bargen’s fabulous Make it Stick Habit School for an alternate and fun way to form lasting habits.