Since I started the Happiness Project, I’ve managed to do a better sticking to these resolutions. Recently I asked myself—why? What was different? Two reasons: accountability and salience.
ACCOUNTABILITY is a key aspect to sticking to a resolution. You must have a way to record your goals, your successes, and your failures. I make a big chart each month, modeled on the virtue chart Benjamin Franklin describes in his Autobiography, on which I score myself each day.
Many readers have asked to see my scoring charts, so I’m prettifying them now, and will make them available soon for anyone who’d like to see a model. Obviously everyone’s resolutions will be very different, but seeing my charts might help spur ideas.
SALIENCE is another key aspect to sticking to a resolution. I found that the more quickly and readily a resolution pops into my mind at an appropriate point, the easier it is to keep that resolution. And the way to keep an idea uppermost in mind is through repetition.
I re-read my Twelve Commandments (see left-hand column) every day. I have sticky notes around the house to remind me of my resolutions. Scoring myself on my chart requires me to review every resolution, every day.
As a result, I hear a little Jiminy-Cricket voice in my head whispering “Let it go,” “Show up,” “There is only love,” “Remember the evening tidy-up,” “Sing in the morning,” and all the rest as I go through my day. Of course, I often ignore that little voice, but at least I hear it more clearly than I did before.
Just last night, I discovered a new mechanism to be reminded of my resolutions. It’s a fantastic website called Hassle Me. This site allows you to arrange to be hassled at certain times – so, for example, as a trial I arranged to be hassled every two days with a message, “No fake food.” It can remind you to go to the gym, to call your grandmother, to pay bills, whatever you want, however often you want.
I think I’m going to send myself fifty hassle-me’s. More salience!
I found an interesting site, Wise Bread. It’s about “living large on a small budget,” and I like the sensibility. One of my happiness themes is the relationship between money and happiness, which I think is more complictated than people claim. This site is about living frugally, but with a fun and adventurous spirit — not cramped penny-pinching. Plus I learned the history of the “baby carrot.”