Keeping a Resolution

I am no expert on healthy habits or New Year’s Resolutions. I did have one small success in 2015- I started flossing my teeth nearly nightly, and I haven’t stopped. Kind of a boring topic of conversation, right?

This took a few starts and stops. In fall of 2014, I bit into a carrot that ruined the metal bar permanent retainer thing on the back of my bottom teeth. With that removed, I started flossing because I finally could do so in a normal way.

But, like any new habit, it was hard to make it stick.

Then, my dental cleaning appointment loomed and I decided to see just how little flossing it would take to pull the wool over their eyes and have them think I was a flossing regular. Well, 3 weeks or so of flossing daily and my gums stopped bleeding, which was noted by an overexcited hygienist.

“Wow! You must have been flossing! Your gums are great! You don’t bleed like you used to! This is great! Great! Great!”

So that’s the quick fix. A stopped again for a while.

Then, I decided it was just going to be a habit. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I did it every night at the same time, whereas before I’d be like, well, I don’t feel like doing it tonight; I’ll do it in the morning (and then I wouldn’t).
  2. I didn’t skip a day, EVER. I carried my dental floss up some 4,000ft mountains to floss on backpacking trips. Now I skip someday, but I didn’t in the first couple of months while it was becoming a habit.
  3. I started (for good) my resolution at the same time I started a new job. I new that would bring a forced new routine anyways, so I just added flossing to the routine.
  4. I shared my new habit with others. I flossed in front of friends on camping trips, in front of kids at summer camp. I’m not saying you should flaunt your new habit, but if you’re willing to share your dental floss, that helps, too. I’m sure with other resolution this one is more interesting – cooking healthy food with friends, or joining a book club, perhaps. I’ve yet to find a flossing club.

These guys say it takes 66 days to make something a habit. After that you get to skip days here and there (and the crazy thing is, sometimes when I do skip a day, I notice my teeth feel fuzzy and I regret it! It’s so weird.)

There you have it. How to keep a resolution. Maybe yours will be less boring than mine was. (I have set no resolutions yet this year. If I want to start a new habit, I’ll probably wait until my next job change, see #3).

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