5 habits to start in 2024 [#51]

And motivational/disciplinary models to help you keep those habits!

5 habits to start in 2024 [#51]

Greetings! It's almost 2024, which is bonkers — 2023 has felt like an eternity. Recently, I've been helping (well, trying to help) my friends build better habits, so I figured I'd write this week's article about habits. I'll break the article up into two parts:

  1. The habits I recommend you build (and why they're important).
  2. Motivational/disciplinary models to help you keep your habits.

Hope you enjoy the article. Happy New Year!

Habit 1

Brush your teeth twice a day. It's surprising how many people don't do this despite the importance of dental hygiene. I used to not do this, which is silly of me, because it takes 4 min/day maximum. You only get one set of teeth for your entire life, and you can avoid all sorts of problems if you just brush your teeth consistently.

Habit 2

Write a journal entry every day. Again, surprising that people don't take 5 min/day to do this, because journaling is one of the best ways to preserve your memories. You don't even have to use paper and pen — I use plaintext files on my computer, and they work extremely well for me.

Habit 3

No short-form video platforms. That means no TikTok, no YouTube Shorts, no Instagram Reels, no Spotify TikTok-style-feed, no Snapchat Spotlight, no Reddit TikTok-style-feed, no Twitter TikTok-style-feed, no Amazon Inspire (seriously, Amazon?), and no other stupid platforms that just mimic TikTok.

In my experience, short-form video platforms are the fastest way to waste your time and obliterate your attention span for almost no benefit. Thankfully, the solution is simple: just remove all the apps from your phone and wait. It'll be tough for the first few weeks, but it's worth it. I promise.

Habit 4

No screens from midnight to 6am (except for emergencies, of course). Sleep is so important — don't let screens disrupt it easily! If you have trouble maintaining this habit, ask your friend to setup parental controls on your devices.

Habit 5

No soda or drinks that are purely sugar. Liquid calories (especially liquid sugar) is obviously not good for you, and in 99% of cases, water is the best beverage. If you're a regular soda drinker, save your money and your health. Just don't drink soda.

Motivational Model 1

Buy a physical calendar and choose a day to start your habit. Then, complete that habit successfully for the next 60 days. Mark a physical X on each day that you complete the habit. (If 60 consecutive days seems difficult, consider how easy Habits 1-5 are to adopt. Are you really not good enough to build a habit for just two months?) Once you've reached the 60-day mark, continuing the habit will seem natural (and often easy), so you don't have to keep track anymore.

Motivational Model 2

Grab a friend who wants to complete the same habit that you do. Picture a 'pot' with $0 in it on day one. Every day, there are a few scenarios: if both of you succeed, add $1 to the pot. If neither succeeds, reset the pot to $0. If one succeeds while the other doesn't, the loser pays the winner the value of the pot. It's a fun way to motivate each other.

For example: consider Abigail and Bernard, who both decided to start the challenge on January 1st, 2024. If they both successfully complete their habits for January 1-15, but Bernard fails on January 16th (and Abigail succeeds), Bernard has to pay Abigail $15.


I've provided Habits 1-5 as good suggestions. You certainly don't have to do them. But if you're going to create your own new habit, there's one very important thing: make sure the threshold for success is very clear. Here are some examples:

Working Out

  1. "Workout more" is a poorly worded habit. What does 'success' even mean here?
  2. "Workout at the gym" isn't much better. Is there a time constraint? How often should one work out?
  3. "Workout 3x per week at the gym" is slightly better. But for how long?
  4. "Workout 3x per week at the gym, where each workout has to be at least 30 minutes long" is very clear and is a good habit.

Gaming Addiction Control

  1. "Spend less time playing video games" is, again, very poorly worded.
  2. "Spend less time playing video games on weekdays" is better, but still pretty bad.
  3. "Play 1 hour or less of video games per day on weekdays" is much better.

Have a great 2024 — and try to pick up a new good habit too!