The 90/90 Rule To Change | Day 29

The 30-Day Blog Blitz has come to a close, and as you may have noticed, this is only post #29. I’ve officially missed two days, but I’m going to put out the final two posts anyway. There are two ideas that came out of this experiment, which almost make me happy that I missed two days. It gave me a chance to practice what I preach. Check it out. 

The What-The-Hell Effect

A friend of mine started a new diet on Monday (when else would you start?).

This is the week he’s going to implement his new program and look shredded forever. He stays strong both Monday and Tuesday, and other than a lunch slip-up, Wednesday was a pretty good day. He still got his squats in after all.

By Thursday, he messes up at lunch again. He feels like he’s slipping. His colleague invites out to happy hour after work, he goes along. At this point, he’s two drinks in. Having already messed up at lunch, he says “F it,” and orders nachos for the table. With three more beers in his system, and a plate of chips retired, he makes his way home where he orders a pizza. Make it a large.

He wakes up Friday morning, feels like crap, and picks up where he left off the night before. “It’s already too late.” he says, “I’ll start back up on Monday.” Muffins and screwdrivers for breakfast it is!

Over the weekend, he skips his workouts, forgets what a healthy diet looks like, and the cycle continues.

This is the ‘What-The-Hell’ Effect. When we slip up on our health program or writing challenge, we say forget it and just succumb back into our old habits. We feel as if we failed, and it’s better to just start over than pick up where we left off. 

I could have beat myself up. Berated myself for not getting the thirty posts up on time. I could have just said fuck it, and gave up writing for awhile, as I have so many times before. But I refuse to do that this time. Yeah I didn’t succeed, but it doesn’t mean I can’t still put out the two missing posts.

That’s what brings me to the 90/90 Rule.

The 90/90 Rule

In the book Organize Tomorrow Today, the authors advocate trying to implant ONE new change, for ninety days, and successfully completing the behavior 90% of the time. This is what I call The 90/90 Rule. Yes, it’s their rule, my name. 

Research on how long it takes to make new habits stick range from 18 to 254 days. A big gap, I know. It depends on the person, the difficulty of the habit you’re trying to create, the frequency of which you practice, and your shoe size (no, not really). 

That’s where the 90 day mark comes in. If most of us practice a new habit daily, for 90 days, it’s likely that it will start to stick. I love the story about the young comedian who asked Jerry Seinfeld what his secret to success was.

Seinfeld told the young comedian to get a calendar and a red marker. He said to write a new joke everyday, and then mark off the day on the calendar with a big red X. Then, his only job was to not break the chain. The longer the chain gets, the less he’ll want to break it. 

Don’t break the chain. 

That’s all fine and dandy, but we cannot forget that we’re human. Stuff comes up, you’re way too hungover, or a friend from college comes into town, so sometimes we “break the chain.” We’re going to slip up every once in awhile.

The goal is not to be perfect. Change is hard. The goal is to not spiril down the What The Hell Effect. It’s to take the loss, and pick back up the next day. That’s where the second 90, have a 90% completion rate, comes in.

That’s it. The 90/90 Rule is that simple:

  1. Pick ONE thing
  2. Aim to do it every day, for the next 90 days.
  3. Complete it 90% of the time. 

I’ve only been on the 30/30 program so far: writing for 30 days, 30% of the time, and I feel dramatically different from when I started this blitz. I crave my alone times in the morning to write. I’ve seen my writing improve everyday. I’m getting new email subscribers, Facebook fans, and love letters from my fans (no, not really). 

There’s power in consistency, and there’s power in having some self-compassion when you slip up. So here you go; here’s to post #29 on Day #33. It feels good not to spiral down. It feels good to not beat myself up. It feels good not to not have to “start on Monday.” …again. 

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