Can you put a price tag on a habit?


Seven years ago, I found a cockroach floating in my coffee cup.

At the time, I was working as an ESL teacher in a crumbling building in a not-particularly-great neighborhood.

Our receptionist’s computer was stolen off her desk in the middle of a work day. Once, our grammar lesson was interrupted by a man urinating against the glass door of our street-level classroom.

I earned $34,000 a year at that job. With a master’s degree and all the debt that goes with it.

It seems strange to credit the creation of one daily habit with getting out of that job, but it’s the truth.

My daily writing habit got me out of that (Fulfilling but exhausting! Extremely underpaid! Sort of dangerous!) job.

And if I look at how much I earned as an ESL teacher and how much I earn now, over the course of seven years …

My daily writing habit is worth $280,000. At least.

That doesn’t include the value I place on the freedom and flexibility that comes with working for myself. That doesn’t include the friendships I’ve made, the trips I’ve taken, the opportunities I’ve had.

That’s just a cold, hard, math-based fact about how much more money I’ve earned because I developed a daily writing habit.

And I bet you have your own version of this.

How much money would you save if you finally kicked your mindless online shopping habits? If you stopped smoking? If you stopped going out for cocktails four nights a week with the coworkers you don’t really like?

How much more money would you bring in if you developed a daily habit of emailing a professional peer? Or spent an hour every morning working on your book proposal?

I realize it’s a little unusual to attach a price tag to a habit, but I’ve found it to be a really effective way to sort of shock me (and maybe you?) into making change.

We all know we should drink more water, take our vitamins, network, charge our phones outside of our bedrooms, but it’s easy to put off change for “some other time” or to underestimate how these good habits could change our lives.

But attaching a monetary value to a habit can shock us into taking action.

Eating more fruits and vegetables could save me thousands of dollars in medication because I’m predisposed to Type 2 diabetes.

Charging my phone outside my bedroom means I’ll sleep better. Sleeping better means I’ll get sick less (and work more + earn more). I’ll snap at my friends, stepsons, and husband less (and spend less on therapy and apology gifts).

You’re smart. You get it!

If my cold, hard numbers have convinced you, I want you to know that the live version of my course Make It Stick Habit School is open for enrollment right now and class starts on March 25th!

What you’ll gain from Make It Stick Habit School LIVE

  • A specific-to-you plan for changing your habits
  • An understanding of why your attempts at habit change have failed in the past
  • Science-backed strategies for avoiding temptation and reinforcing good habits
  • Methods you can apply over and over again, to any habit you want to make or break

You can start to break bad habits+ build good ones today for $97!

After you sign up, you’ll immediately have access to

  • 8 video modules + 17-page workbook
  • audio versions of those lessons so you can listen to them at the gym or in the car
  • Our private Facebook group
  • 4 live q & a sessions
  • Weekly emails + accountability challenges

Truly, these methods helped me develop the daily writing habit that lead to my career, break the procrastination habit so I could get my M.A. while working two jobs, and end my impulse spending habit so I could pay off $50k in school debt.

But don’t take my word for it!

This is the magic formula. I’ve been trying to build a regular fitness habit for a decade, but I wasn’t allowing myself room for any deviation whatsoever. Now I have a whole collection of mini ‘bookmark’ activities that I love to do, so that when I can’t get in a ‘real’ workout, I’m still moving my body every day and maintaining my habit. – Erin G.

I loved Habit School! 1. Because it helped me realize why all my other good habits have slid right off me. And 2. because it actually. Made. Good. Habits. STICK! I’m not kidding you. It just worked, and it made me feel amazing. I’ve been able to replicate that same success over and over, with little habits that I was so discouraged about not being able to accomplish before. It is a whole new way of looking at how you behave, and it has really and truly helped me make steps towards being the Nora I want to be. – Nora M.

This ish works! Class starts March 25th and I’d love to see you there!

P.S. If you want to know more before you commit to the course, join me tomorrow over lunch and ask me all your questions about habits or watch my free, 30-minute video workshop 4 Sneaky Ways To Break That Bad Habit This Year.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Web Time Wasters

What’d you get up to this week, friends? I worked on getting everything ready to open the live version of Make It Stick Habit School – enrollment opens on the 19th and class starts on the 25th! My last live class sold out in 4 days, so if you’re interested I’d recommend getting on the waitlist. If you have any questions about the course, shoot me an email at sarah@yesandyes.org!

Links for you!

Donate here to support the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

What if you only have one more relationship?

A super helpful Twitter thread about surviving your first year of self-employment.

We all know that feeling!

Four sneaky ways to break those bad habits this year

If you’re someone who’s easily influenced or has a hard time figuring out what’s right for you, you’ll love this essay from Kristen.
If I can just convince you that I have The Answer, then you’ll buy it and I’ll move along to the next person. If, instead, I teach you to find the answers yourself, that’s a.) far more work and b.) eventually, you won’t need me. I can’t pump you full of solutions indefinitely, which is why the marketing industry hooks you with headlines like, ‘You won’t BELIEVE the thing I do every six months to keep my whole life running smoothly. And it’s FREE!”  (That’s the spammy version of this podcast episode!)

If you work with brands, you’ll appreciate this post: Why third-party creator platforms aren’t helping your influencer marketing

What food geniuses eat when they’re home alone (I eat stove-top popcorn popped in bacon fat and topped with nutritional yeast)

Such a cute reno of a camping trailer!

And what a great makeover of a stairway and entryway.

20 things every single gal should do before her next relationship (extremely co-signed on #14!)

I looooove coordinating the Cost Of Living Diary interviews for Livability. This month, we’re talking about Tampa!

A new tool for having good trips – What To Eat In:

Related: breakfasts + beauty routines in Italy.

I have mixed feelings about FIRE (financial independence retire early), and my concerns are pretty well captured in this article.
If this hack for spending less time and money on cleaning sounds like it involves being less clean, that’s because it does. “In the cool, dry winters I might need a shower every two to three days,” he continues. “With careful re-hanging, my towel will last at least 10 showers before it smells anything less than perfectly fresh.” The upsides to this approach, he says, is increased free time, saved money and a more robust immune system.

Relatable?

Truuuuuue.

I loved this super simple nightlight DIY!

And remember to get on the waitlist for Make It Stick Habit School if you’re interested!

Changing Habits Isn’t About Intelligence or Hard Work

Trying to break a bad habit or build a good habit? Click through to read 4 myths about habit change and improve your goal-setting or increase your motivation!

Pre – P.S. Enrollment for the live version of Make It Stick Habit School opens March 19th. My last live course sold out in four (4!) days, so if you’re interested, I’d encourage you to jump on the wait-list!



“Ughhhhhhh. Why can’t I break my mindless Instagram habit?!! I trained for a marathon, I paid off all my school debt, I graduated with a 3.9 but I can’t stop scrolling through strangers’ photos? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME I HATE EVERYTHING.”

Raise your hand if you’ve uttered something like this within the confines of your mind!

(Everyone, ever raises their hand.)

Maybe Instagram isn’t your vice of choice. Maybe the bad habit you can’t kick is online shopping, smoking, mean-spirited gossip, leaving a mess everywhere you go, or eating an entire bag of pizza rolls as ‘second dinner’ every night.

Not that I’ve ever done that.

Whatever the bad habit, it’s very possible that you’ve had some version of this conversation with yourself. The conversation where you hold up your accomplishments and wonder why you can do something so seemingly hard – get the dream job, graduate with honors – but you can’t stop stalking your ex on Facebook.

If you’ve ever done that:Good news/bad news: Habit change has nothing to do with intelligence or work ethic. We can’t outsmart or outwork our bad habits. Click To TweetLarry King had terrible spending habits and declared bankruptcy twice. President Obama struggled with a smoking habit for years. Oprah Winfrey has been very open about her challenges with fitness and eating habits for her entire career.

I think we can all agree that the above mentioned humans are smart and hard working.

So how do we break bad habits if we can’t out-smart or out-work them?

I’m afraid the answer is too long for one blog post. It involves motivation, neurology, self-awareness, and developing a process that works for you. (Shameless plug, we cover all these tools in Habit School!)

What I can tell you is three more things very few people are saying about breaking bad habits and building good ones.

3 surprising things I want you to know about habit change

1. There’s no such thing as laziness

What now? Yes. If you’ve ever believed that you’re “too lazy” to break a bad habit or build a good one I’m here to share to tell you that laziness isn’t, uh, really a thing.

What often looks and feels like laziness is actually procrastination, anxiety about the outcome, or confusion about where to start.

Sure there are times that we simply don’t want to do something – who truly wants to empty the dishwasher? – but most of our ‘laziness’ is actually something else entirely.

2. Much of the narrative around habit change is one-size-fits-all

If you’ve ever read a listicle about breaking a bad habit or building a good one, said listicle has probably assumed:

* You’re trying to go to the gym more
* Obsessively measuring + tracking your progress works well with your particular brain
* Using your phone or computer to obsessively track said progress poses zero issues
* You’re already getting eight hours of sleep
* The people in your life are wildly supportive of the habit you’re changing
* You’re not tempted by anything, ever
* What’s a trigger? Don’t know her, never met her

Oh, what’s that? You mean that you’re trying to change a habit that’s NOT weight-loss related? You feel discouraged when you don’t see progress after, like, three days? Using a habit-tracking app on your phone leads you down an Instagram wormhole that just makes you feel bad?

If that sounds familiar, 90% of the stuff that’s written about habit change won’t work for you. (Controversial opinion alert: 90% of the stuff that’s written about habit change won’t work for for most people.)

3. Much of the narrative around habit change, uh, ISN’T TRUE

Fun fact: that ’21-days to a new habit’ stat we see floating around is totally, completely false. On average, it takes people 66 days to truly cement a new habit. And that can vary from 12-265 days! And it’s different from person to person and habit to habit!

So, if you tried to build a new habit for 21 days and it didn’t stick – it’s not that you did it wrong. It’s just that you’re probably only 30% of the way there.

The truth is, habit change is both harder and easier than we’ve been lead to believe. It’s not just a habit tracker app and doing something every day for three weeks.

Like a lot of things in life, habit change is simple; it’s not necessarily easy.  Knowing that you’re not ‘doing it wrong’ is a huge step in the right direction.

Have you struggled to make habit change stick? Or fallen for the 21-days myth? If you’ve successfully changed a habit, tell us how you did it in the comments!

P.S. The wait-list for Habit School is here!

Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

Web Time Wasters

Doesn’t this sound like 1997?

What’d you get up to this week, friends? I finally saw Bohemian Rhapsody, warmed myself at the Como Park Conservatory, and celebrated filing our taxes with a meal at The Red Stag Supper Club. I hope your week was also filled with flowers, movies, and good food.

Links for you

I’m an under-buyer and I’ve had this $30 item in my Amazon cart for LITERALLY A YEAR. I finally bought it and, yes, it’s as amazing as I’d hoped.

Somewhat related: over in the Money & Happy Facebook group, we’re having a really great, honest conversation about family financial support and it’s very illuminating.

YES.

Two cheap, easy recipes I’m going to try: roasted buffalo chickpea bowls + crispy baked tofu with broccoli

This is why we need The No Grocery Challenge! 😆

Why People Wait 10 Days to Do Something That Takes 10 Minutes
As any good chore procrastinator knows, the drama doesn’t simply end with deciding to do something later. For Gloria Fraser, a caretaker from Massachusetts, that’s where it just begins. She’s always considered herself a prompt, efficient person in her professional life, but the emotional baggage of housework makes personal chores more difficult. “There’s the negative tape going on in my head that I should have done something, and why did I wait until it got this bad,” she says. “So that’s piling up, and instead of doing it, I’m thinking about all the times I should have been. So I end up kind of catatonic over not doing stuff instead of doing that stuff.”

Somewhat related: 5 business tasks you’ve been putting off that, yes, you need to do

And also somewhat related: If the open rates of your business’s newsletter have been going down, you’re not alone! Deliverability rates have decreased across many providers.

Accurate.

I appreciate Cup Of Jo’s interviews with stepmoms 

I am extremely co-signed on Captain Awkward’s advice to this woman
I just want you to keep in mind that “shopping for symbolic jewelry items” may not come “naturally” to your chosen spouse, but he had and continues to have choices open to him. Some of these choices are: 1) Goobingle it 2) There are many step-by-step guides! 3) You can make the decision/ask the question about becoming engaged and save the whole darn jewelry bit for later, 4) Or use a silly/fun/cheap stand-in prop if the ritual is important 5) You can ask for help, like“Can we take an afternoon and sort this out together?” 6) You can ask for specific suggestions, like: “Here is my approximate budget, can you show me some examples of rings you might like, or would you like to pick something out together?” 7) You can set/manage expectations: “I haven’t mentioned it before because I saving up so I can get you something really nice and I wanted it to be a surprise, but it doesn’t have to be a surprise if waiting is stressing you out so much!”  IF PEOPLE WANT TO MARRY YOU, THEY HAVE MANY WAYS TO LET YOU KNOW. You told him this particular step/symbol was important to you more than once, so it shouldn’t be a mystery that it’s important to you.

Also totally co-signed with this: Let’s Stop Making Excuses for Our Spaces (and Love Them As-Is)

A cute idea for gardening this spring!

I love Wendy’s ideas for different ways to style what you already own.

Ha!

Related: The unpleasant truth behind why we “can’t” break bad habits

The Truth About Changing For Someone (+ Why It Probably Won’t Work)

Trying to change for someone? It might not work. Click through for habit change tips and goal-setting tips you haven't read before!“I’m sort of shooting myself in the foot here, but no. I don’t think you should buy it. I can’t, in good faith, take your money.”

I laugh awkwardly as my friend squints at me over her laptop.

We’re co-working in a pretty, light-filled coffee shop downtown. I’ve been telling her about my course Make It Stick Habit School and (shameless brag!) how it’s helped people build writing habits, gym habits, better sleep routines – all kinds of stuff.

And her very sweet response was “That sounds like something my husband needs. I’m going to buy it and make him take it.”

I was incredibly flattered that she had so much faith in my methods that she wanted her husband to benefit from them. I loved that she wanted to support the work I do! What a great friend!

But here’s the truth: Change is hard enough when we’re trying to do it for our OWN reasons. It’s DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE when we’re trying to change for other people. Click To Tweet
Think about it. Which is more motivating: Changing your spending habits because you’re ready to live that roommate-free life? Or because your mom keeps shaming you about your credit card debt? 

Is it easier to build a running habit because you know it’ll help you sleep better or because your partner nags you about your blood pressure?

Are you more likely to break your nightly happy hour habit because you’d rather put that money towards a vacation? Or because your best friend makes “jokes” about how you’re a lush?

Sure, we’ve all made choices to avoid shame, embarrassment, or nagging. This is why I dig all my chip crumbs out of the dip before Kenny gets home from work! And why he speed cleans for an hour before I get home from any trip!

But.
Making big changes to our daily lives from a place of obligation or negativity is unsustainable. We can’t shame ourselves into lasting change. Click To Tweet

This is why I wouldn’t let me friend buy my class for her husband; I knew it wouldn’t work for him.

In fact, in the ‘before we get started’ module of Make It Stick Habit School, we talk about choosing one habit to work on for the next six weeks. Then we double – and triple! – check that we’re all changing these habits for the right reasons.

Because our friends are doing it? Nope.
Because our partner gets annoyed about it? Nah-uh.
Because our parents wish we would? Keep going.

But a change we really, truly want to make? That we’re excited about? Ding ding ding! There we go! That’s a habit worth changing!

Change that sticks is change that’s motivated by self-love and commitment and an understanding of how we’ll benefit. We need this understanding to fall back on when we’re tempted to skip our daily meditation or swing through Target for some mindless shopping. Shame and obligation make for poor support systems.

And if you can’t find way to get excited about changing something you ‘should’ change? Take a step back and give yourself some space. Life is long and no one has to be great at everything. You’re allowed to change the things you want to change and leave some parts of your life gloriously un-perfected.

I want to hear from you! Have you ever tried to change something or make/break a habit out of shame or obligation? How’d that go?

P.S. The live version of Make It Stick Habit School opens for enrollment on March 19th. My last live course sold out in 4 days, so you might want to get on the waitlist!

Photo by Charles Etoroma on Unsplash

Web Time Wasters

How was your week, friends? I just got back from another week in Costa Rica leading a retreat for Fit & Fly Girl. I’m weirdly looking forward to having at least two months of flight-free time in my future. Sometimes you just need the time and space to really dig into your life and get some momentum going, ya know?

Links for you!

Breakfast and beauty routines in The Netherlands

Some truth about why it feels weird to break long-term patterns

Related: 5 reasons your good habits don’t stick!

Where I’ve Lived: Eight homes of a 13-year-old former foster kid
When he was 8, Logan moved in with his last foster parents, Shasta and her husband, Ben. They adopted him in 2016. “I just remember going into my room, and it was really cool. I had this fort between two couches where it was warm and squishy. It felt good, like I finally was going to stay somewhere.”

Agreed! Kevin WAS the hottest Backstreet Boy!

Ghost apples

FASCINATING: The lonely life of a yacht influencer
“I used to feel all messed up about my career,” he continued. “I was a short-haul truck driver in the Bronx, and I guess I caught the yacht bug. I’d go to a bookstore, grab a table and read everything I could about yachts. Then, on the very first weekend after I downloaded the Instagram app, right after Instagram became a thing you could download, I went to a luxury boat show and took some of pictures of the yachts. I added some hashtags, and pretty soon I had 800,000 followers. But the quantity doesn’t really matter to the folks who pay me, it’s the quality. Influential people follow me, Gulf state princes and Russian moguls who might actually be able to buy these yachts.”

One of my absolute least favorite things is when people talk about saving a lot of money in a short period of time and then you find out that they a) lived with their parents b) don’t have school debt. ANYBODY CAN SAVE A LOT OF MONEY IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME IF THOSE THINGS ARE IN PLAY.

I will absolutely be making these mushroom ‘scallops’ for a future No Grocery Challenge!

I was on the Life Rebrand podcast talking about redefining happiness for yourself. If you have a podcast, I’d love to be on it! Drop me a line at sarah@yesandyes.org and let’s get a date on the calendar!

I use Canva for pretty much everything – my blog post graphics, Instagram graphics, project proposals. Now they’ve added a whole bunch of new, free stock photos called ‘Natural Women‘ and they are GREAT. Super inclusive and free.

A $700 kitchen makeover!

Hope you had a lovely week!