Habit Forge – A High Tech Replacement For A Pen and Cocktail Napkin

I used to be a New Year’s Resolutioner.  In fact, I was so enthralled with the whole process that I turned it into an annual tradition on New Year’s Eve:  Champagne – check.  Cocktail napkin and pen to capture the five or so “this year I’m going to do it”  resolutions – check.  A few tears for good measure and a suitable “watch out world” soundtrack of choice (depending on the year – “Rocky,” “Working Girl,” “Hoosiers,” “Flashdance,” “Karate Kid” ) – check.  Did I successfully keep any of my resolutions over the years?  Sure.  But never all of them.  Blame it on the cocktails, the desire to charge into the New Year with gusto, or quite possibly the cheesy music, but the resolution behind those resolutions just seemed to kind of slink into the darkness after a month or so.  And I’m certainly not alone, as clearly evidenced by the yearly surge of new health club members in January that have all but disappeared by March or so.

So this year’s going to be different.  My plan for 2011 is a two-pronged approach, as I will articulate one year-long career goal, and one immediate personal goal.  The career goal will require a strategic attack that I plan to line out (sans champagne) in a business plan kind of way, using a goal pyramid.  (If you’re interested in learning more about this approach, I outlined specifics in a recent article written for “Hospital Impact.”)  As far as the personal goal goes, I’m going to nix the usual “Workout More” “Eat Healthier,” “Destress,” kind of vague, general resolutions for a very specific goal that, from all accounts, will help me accomplish all three – “Drink 8 BIG Glasses of Water Every Day.”  This may sound very simplistic, but the fact is, I tend to get so immersed in work that I can easily go an entire day without one sip of anything other than coffee.  And although every diet and health “bible” touts a different approach, all agree on one component – plenty of H2O to keep body and mind in peak condition.  And trust me, at this point most days I need all the help I can get.

To help keep me on track, I’ve set up a daily email reminder using a fantastic free service called, “Habit Forge.” Habit Forge is a free web application used for goal setting. It helps you create (or break) habits by sending you a daily email asking whether you accomplished a particular goal the day before.  If you say “yes” for 21 days in a row, then you’ve succeeded in creating a new habit. If you miss a day, you start back at day one.  Here’s a look at the setup interface:

Once I set up my goal of drinking 8 BIG glasses of water each day, I received this email:

So, we’ll see how it goes!  Although my use of this tool is to help me with a personal goal, there are all kinds of career “habits” that a daily email reminder might help you forge (or unforge) – sending resumes, reading trade journals, writing blog posts, updating social media accounts, adding LinkedIn connections – be creative!  And feel free to share your habit aspirations in the comments, ’cause we all know misery loves company it’s much easier to tackle a challenge with a support system!  🙂

Good luck, and here’s to a Happy New Year!

About the author


Gwen Darling

Gwen Darling is a Search Executive specializing in Healthcare IT, the Founder of Healthcare IT Central (the leading online Career Center for Healthcare IT job seekers and employers), and the Former Editor/Founder of Healthcare IT Today. Gwen also is a featured blogger for Healthcare Informatics magazine.

1 Comment

  • Habitforge is great to give me the momentum to forge a new habit. I highly recommend it!

    Important: Research shows that the average number of days to forge a habit is more like 60. This is where a habit becomes too automated. You have to do it. Some habits that require more steps or are harder to get going on may require as many as 260 days of doing it. I read about this on Psyblog. It’s easier to forge the habit, though after doing it for 21 days and that’s what I use habitforge for.

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