CCC: A Method for Habit Building

A Little Story

*PANG PANG*. The smell of burning rubber hung in the air. A young warrior was firing little colourful objects towards a destructive dragon called Resistance. These objects were the most effective munition he had: rubber bands. It kept the dragon at a distance for a while, but still, the dragon crept closer and closer. The dragon was not close enough to be slain by the sword of courage. I need to find another weapon. All he had was a sheet of paper, a black marker and a book. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head.

He took the marker and made a drawing. The warrior drew himself, slaying the dragon Resistance. He looked up again, hoping Resistance would be gone like a magical self-fulfilling prophecy. F*ck this creature is still crawling towards me. It seemed as if the dragon was enjoying the suffering of the warrior, knowing that quickly biting the warrior’s head off would spoil the fun too soon. The warrior removed the sweat on his forehead, returned to the sheet and added: “Read daily, your future self will be grateful for it.” Still not enough, I can already feel the heat of the dragon’s breath. It was hard to keep his focus on finding a weapon with the dragon getting closer and closer.

All of a sudden, he had another idea. He drew a minimalistic square on the sheet and imagined caging Resistance in this little box.

A cage fell upon the dragon, keeping this monster’s snapping jaws just an arm length from the warrior. I know what to do now. He picked up the book with trembling hands and opened the first page. Letter by letter, word by word and sentence by sentence, he read an entire page, ignoring the awful smell coming from the dragon’s mouth. There is only one thing left to do. He took the marker after finishing the page and drew a cross, ticking off the checkbox. At the same time, a giant sword swung from the sky, cleaving Resistance into pieces.

The warrior had conquered Resistance, but he knew the dragon would come back, so he drew the cages for the coming days. Now, he was ready to fight.

How to make a Crossout Calendar Cue (CCC)

Think of a daily habit you would like to bring into your life. Got one? Good. All you need is a sheet of paper and a black marker. Start by drawing 10 checkboxes at the bottom of the sheet. Give the first box the number 1. Then, make a drawing of you fighting with the dragon Resistance. Afterwards, write the habit you would like to do, e.g. “Write daily” or “Read daily”. Also, shortly mention the reason WHY this habit is important to you, e.g. “to write a book”  or “to become smarter”. Additionally, you can add a motivational quote if you want. Now it should more or less look like the drawing below. Place this CCC somewhere where you will clearly see it multiple times a day. For example, the door of your office, your bedroom door or the whiteboard above your desk. Now comes the real part.

Every day, this “Cross Calendar Cue” will serve as a visual reminder to perform your habit. When you have finished the habit, you can tick off the first box. Congratulate yourself, you have just started performing the habit you always wanted to do. Actually, that was the hardest part, the rest will go easier. Keep going. Tick all the other boxes off on the following days. Every day is a little win, celebrate it. When you have ticked off all 10 boxes, give yourself an even bigger celebration. I, for example, like to proudly pound my chest every day after my writing habit and do a little dance when I have finished the ten days. It can be as simple as that. Draw the next 10 boxes and give the first one the number 11 and keep going.

What if you forget to perform your habit, or you really just couldn’t? In the case of daily “streaks” as with Duolingo and Snapchat, the streak would be lost, and you will need to start again. This might be a good strategy to keep you motivated in the short term, but I think in the long term there is a better alternative. The CCC does not punish you as harshly when you miss a day. It is just a missed opportunity to build up the amount of crossed-out boxes on your CCC.

Why does it work?

As you may have noticed, I used the word “cue” in the “Crossout Calendar Cue”. I used it because I think that central to its concept is that the CCC reminds you of what you want to do daily. You can’t form a habit you forget about. Additionally, the drawing, motivational quote and your WHY help with overcoming the initial inertia you feel towards performing the habit. It energizes you by reminding you why you do it in the first place. Moreover, seeing the progress you make is as well one of the most motivational things in the world.

Your Turn

Take a piece of paper and something to write, ideally a big black marker, and make your own Crossout Calendar Cue.

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