I’ve heard varying theories on how long it takes to form a new habit, and after trying things out for myself, I’ve found that it varies. I’ve had certain bad habits all my life that I’ve tried to break with these streaks and some have worked while others haven’t. I’m still looking for a way to break the nail-biting that has plagued me for as long as I can remember.
With many failed attempts in the past, I decided to try something new that the dude introduced to me: HabitRPG. This is an app/website that not only helps you build new, productive habits, it also helps you break the bad ones by turning everyday into a video game. You create an avatar, then set up habits (good and bad), dailies, to-dos, and rewards. I started with my bad habits: nail-biting and messing with the skin on my face (I’ve had various forms of acne since I was a teenager and have been incredibly unsuccessful not only in combating it, but also keeping myself from making it worse). I just click on these habits whenever I do them, and it takes “life” away from my character. It definitely takes some discipline to rat on yourself, but if you’re really determined to break the habits, I think it’s easy to stay true. As I was chatting with the dude about all the things I had set up, I found myself biting my nail and had to take a 3pt. hit to my health.
I’ve also set up some good habits that I want to form such as bringing my lunch to work (we have a cafeteria downstairs that’s inexpensive and very easy to default to) and reading for an hour a day (I love to read but always claim to not have time for it).
The dailies don’t necessarily have to be everyday activities, but are more regular ones you would like to adopt. I set up a once per week task of putting money into my savings account or setting it aside for wedding gifts for friends this year (because we have five weddings to go to. FIVE.). I really like this customized feature – it’s important not to overload yourself with so many daily things, and it helps keep you on track if some new things are less frequent than others. My exercise and blog posts fell under the dailies column as well, but these are set up for four times a week, while making sure the apartment is clean has been set as an actual daily task.
Even better than the dailies are the to-dos – one-off tasks that you can set up each day to be completed, and that can also have a set due date. With today being my day off, I set up to-dos for doing laundry and running the dishwasher. I was able to make a checklist for them to help get through each part of the tasks (running dishwasher, putting dishes away, reloading it, etc.), and if you don’t finish the entire task, having it partially completed allows you to lose less “life.” I made a “clean out my closet” task that’s due Friday, so we’ll see how well I stick to that one!
Lastly, by far the best part of the app, you’re able to set up rewards. With each daily/to-do completed, and good habit reinforced, you earn gold and experience. You can create rewards with varying costs for which you cash in your gold. For example, for 15 gold, I’m treating myself to beer or wine. For 40, I’m going to the movies (not just watching one on Netflix). And for 75, I’m buying myself something I don’t need. The app/website also allows you to buy equipment with your gold like in an actual RPG, and it can help you fight/recover the bad habits and unfinished tasks that happen from time to time. I’ve yet to really explore this part of it, but can’t wait to get my 75 gold to buy something fun.
Like I said before, it takes discipline to really stick to it, but that’s the case when you’re trying to do these things on your own as well. I definitely recommend this to those that need to make chores and breaking bad habits more fun – I know I certainly could use it. I’ll keep you up to date on my progress probably on a monthly basis. And I’m gaining experience right now just by writing this post – huzzah!