Developing Keystone Habits


Don’t forget the giveaway that’s going on right now. Click here for more details.

I’ve already gushed about Lift App before. This time, it’s not because I’ve actually received the T-shirt they sent me to say thanks for the first post (though I did). This time, it’s because I’ve experienced some cool psychology that I had only read about until now and I believe it’s thanks to Lift App.

Remember when I read The Power of Habit? I learned a lot from that book including about what Duhigg calls Keystone Habits. Research shows that committing to one keystone habit can improve and bring positive results the rest of your life. One example is food journaling. You can read in detail about it in this HuffPo article but the summary version is this: ask a group of people who want to lose weight to track their food intake. At the beginning they may forget a lot. Slowly they’ll remember to track one meal a day or maybe one day a week. Over time, they’ll remember more and more until they’ve started tracking everything. Then what happens? They become more aware of what’s going in their bellies.

“The researchers hadn’t suggested any of these behaviors. They had simply asked everyone to write down what they ate once a week. But this keystone habit — food journaling — created a structure that helped other habits to flourish. Six months into the study, people who kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as everyone else.

“After a while, the journal got inside my head,” one person told me. “I started thinking about meals differently. It gave me a system for thinking about food without becoming depressed.” (article)

I’m totally experiencing this with Lift. I have a list of thirteen habits I’m tracking. Not all I’m trying to do daily, but ideally I would get to that point. I had an 18 day streak with reading my Bible until we did a lot of travelling this past weekend. I’ve been writing and reading more because I’m tracking these habits.

But flossing?

I’ve flossed 5 times since I started tracking in January. Three of which were this month.

In February I had had enough of the “Floss!” at the top of my screen always taunting me. “You should floss,” it said. “I don’t want to,” I would reply and then consider deleting that goal from the list. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Probably because my dentist wouldn’t be very happy with me and neither would my wallet for having to pay my dentist so much.

As I saw everything else on my list being lit up in green as I checked them off, the 1 minute it took to floss started seeming less daunting. I became more and more motivated to get the Floss lit green too.

So I decided: I’ll try to floss once a week. That is SO manageable.

Then when I did that two weeks in a row, feeling on top of the world, I decided I could manage twice a week. See where this is going?

Last night as I looked at where I was in my list as I was thinking about my evening and I realized: if I plan things right I can knock them all off. Providence agreed by getting a giant piece of apple (Eat More Fruit) stuck in my teeth, forcing me to floss.

All this to say: you should try Lift, or figure out a system that works for you if an app doesn’t. It’s worth it!

Journaling challenge

Last fall I did a bunch of posts on journaling and gave a way a great hand bound journal. I just stumbled upon a challenge that I thought I’d share with you because it’s a great idea. Over at Cloud Productivity, they’re throwing out a challenge starting March 1 (that’s this Friday) to start journaling. It gives you some time to decide whether you want to write or type, to pick up a fresh journal or buy an app or just open a new window in Word.

Can journalling can make you more productive?” was my most popular post on journaling, which you might find motivating to start.

Have you recently started journaling? Have you tried before and quit? What did/didn’t you like about it? Do you think you’ll give it a shot this time? Comment here with your thoughts.

The winner of the Soundless Soliloquy journal is…

I learned a few things from this giveaway. Like, for one, I don’t think the Rafflecopter app worked exactly like it was supposed to.  In previous giveaways that I’ve used Rafflecopter, it would share the link to Facebook by it self. This one, it seems, is just trusting the user to actually do it. And in verifying some of the entries (ie Facebook shares) by going to your Facebook pages. Not everyone did. Ahem.

Also, following by email is a two-step process that I think only two people actually validated the second step. So that’s a helpful lesson.

I decided I’m not a scrooge and so I’m got to let every entry stand.

Sharon is generously giving readers of this blog 10% off from her Etsy shop until December 15 using the code “JessV10”. For those of you who live in Ottawa she’ll be at Urban Craft this Saturday (Dec 1st) in Ottawa at the GCTC from 10am to 2pm. For Montrealers, Sharon will be at Haut + Fort Holiday Design Market the weekends of Dec 6-9 & 13-16. Also, considering that today is the last day of November, might I remind you that if you buy this moustache journal, 10% of the proceeds go to support!

So without further ado, the winner is….


We’ll be getting in touch with you, Sid. Congrats on winning something for the first time!

Journaling inspiration + giveaway

Today is Day 2 of the Soundless Soliloquy journal giveaway! Click here for details if you haven’t already put in your entries!

This is the last week of Nanowrimo. I’ve crossed the 45,000 word mark so I’m in the home stretch. I’m just focusing on seeing a few friends and finishing up writing. These last 5000 words are the hardest as I’m closing story loops and trying to make sure I’m not giving away all the mysterious details thus making it too obvious for the reader! And by “the reader” I mean “no one” since no one save maybe my husband if he’s desperate for reading material will be reading it because it’s really nothing special.

If you have that writerly bend, have a thing for paper goods, but wouldn’t know what to use your free journal for, check out this tumblr for some inspiration.

My first ever giveaway: A Soundless Soliloquy Journal

Sharon, owner of Soundless Soliloquy

Sharon and I have been friends for a few years now. She’s a fellow Montrealer (though I have no idea if I’m allowed to call myself a Montrealer yet), fellow clothes-swapper and paper-goods lover. Just over a year ago she started her hand-bound journal business, Soundless Soliloquy. Sharon has a great story that brought her to start the business that hopefully I’ll get her to share another time. It’s about not being all that happy with her circumstances and taking a risk to change them. Sharon’s journals are gorgeous little creations that, like her motto says, helps me write my soliloquy. She has kindly offered up one of her journals for a give-away. They’re obviously sweatshop free and cruelty free because she makes them by hand and uses acid-free paper so your precious writing will be preserved for a long, long time.

The Rules

  1. All entries go through Rafflecopter that tallies them for me (yay!)
  2. Sharon is giving away your choice of plain colour half-page journal or any quarter-sized journal including cut-out covers.
  3. Here’s the link to her Etsy page to see all of the journals, which will help you for one of your entries.
  4. I apologize for not being able to embed the Rafflecopter widget here (blame for not allowing me to use javascript!).
  5. You have until Thursday at midnight EST to enter. I’ll announce the winners on Friday and get you connected with Sharon for your prize.


Can journaling help your health?

Apparently it can. Both and Psychology Today agree that journaling can help your health.

Reduce stress, be more productive

According to PsychCentral, the benefits might be as minimal as reduced stress or help you manage your emotions. The article indicates journaling can help:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings. Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
  • Know yourself better. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
  • Reduce stress. Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
  • Solve problems more effectively. Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
  • Resolve disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict. (article).

Write out difficult experiences

Whereas Psychology Today goes much deeper. They spoke with Dr. James W. Pennebaker who is a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. He talks about how writing can be tremendous therapy for people who have experienced traumatic events.

“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experienced improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up,” he says.

I have definitely experienced all of the bullet points listed above from Psych Central. What about you? Have you been able to keep a journal long enough to find benefit in it? Leave a comment by clicking here

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