When I was a boy, my dentist would grade my flossing and brushing. After each visit, I would receive a grade just like I did in school. The goal was an A and with that A came a gift certificate to the local mall.
I think it was $5 to the arcade or the mall in general. It wasn’t a lot to an adult but to a boy, this was a lot of money. But it never worked for me. I wasn’t motivated by money. Even money I could have easily gotten.
I had no internal motivation for flossing. I would brush fairly well, but no better than C or B- quality. My school grades were much higher but I was chastised every 6 months for my poor oral care grades.
Each time after his chiding, he would reiterate the gift certificate and tell me exactly what I had to do to earn it and be an A+ caretaker of my teeth.
But I wasn’t motivated. I didn’t see the point. My teeth were fine. I was a kid. I was stupid.
Later in life, I’ve struggled to develop a flossing habit. I’m an A+ brusher but I still hover around a C in flossing.
I’ve tried water picks. I’ve tried picks that are easier to use than floss in my eyes. I’ve tried to motivate myself in a number of ways.
Nothing has really worked.
I am trying something new. I downloaded an app for my iPhone called [Lift](http://lift.do). The idea behind the app is to choose a couple of things I want to make a habit out of. Then I can check them off each day as I do them.
I am encouraged to build a streak, and I can interact with other people trying to do the same thing. I am not using it for the social aspect because I want to interact with people. But by making it a social experience I can pretend other people are watching me.
And judging me when I fail to meet my goals for the day. This idea of being watched and judged is going to keep me motivated. Building a streak to make something like flossing a habit instead of a struggle is the main goal.
This is only day one of my experience but I am liking Lift so far and it’s very quick and simple to remember. I have a notification set for each of my habits to alert me at different times of the day.
This is important because I want to take my multivitamin in the morning then read before bed. I get an alert for both at the times I’ve selected.
The most important thing for a new system to be successful in my life is it must adapt to my life, not force me to adapt to the app. Lift does this perfectly and I am very happy with it so far.
Hopefully in a month I will have healthier teeth, walked everyday, read a book and written everyday and taken my vitamins.
Are you working on habits in your own life? How are you trying to make changes to better yourself?