Every new year we set out to have a “New Year Resolution”. I always start a grand idea and end up losing track by the first week. Yikes! But one thing that has worked for me is a method called theXeffect!

The X-effect is a gamification method to build willpower and achieve new habits.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Get a notecard and a red marker.
  2. Draw 6 vertical lines intersecting with 6 horizontal lines. This will create a 7x7 grid of 49 squares.
  3. Choose one daily habit that you want to imprint on yourself. (Meditate for 9 minutes a day, dont drink soda, sleep by 10PM). Don’t make it too hard. Succeeding at a 2 minute exercise/day is far far better than failing 50% of attempted daily 5mile runs.
  4. On the back of the card, write one or a few reasons why you are creating/breaking this habit. There are times you will need to turn that card over and read it, and remember. You really have to find the truth why you are doing this, and boil it down into something short and true.
  5. The 49 squares are days and the 7 rows represents 7 weeks! 49 days! Every time you succeed, uncap that red marker and put an X in the square. It feels good making the X so enjoy it.
  6. On day 50, CELEBRATE.

What if you screw up, miss an X, or fall off? Well, you’re going to have a SINGLE gap in your card. Do these things:

  1. Force yourself to have an X the very next day. If you fall in a white hole, you hop RIGHT back out.
  2. Write down what led to the slip. This is so you can avoid it next time. (I didn’t Gym in the morning because I forgot to set the alarm clock, I smoked because I had my 4th beer, I didnt sleep early because I couldn’t hear my sleep alarm).

So go out there and do it! It’s concrete proof (even if your card has a hole) that your willpower has increased. It’s been concluded by a Stanford University Study on Willpower that willpower is like a muscle: exercising it makes it stronger. Have you been working out? Yes you have. It’s not simply an accomplishment or a stunt. It is very real progress. And that willpower you picked up can be applied to other things now. You will notice it.

Now its important to start small and keep going. If this is your first time, it’s more important to learn how to rebound from a fall and build your confidence. After you get better at getting back up, then you can test your limits. But this round, just get some momentum first and shed some of that drama. This is going to change your outlook as much as it changes your strength.

50 is hard. It’s all relative, but we both know its not easy. So if 50 is overwhelming to you then it’s a bad idea and the better idea would be to just focus on the near term goal: go FOUR DAYS. At that point, one full week is within reach. After 7 days, you’re in, and we are all here. So then we all go for one whole month, which is huge.

Your willpower is like a muscle, and it gets stronger and stronger as you exercise it.

This post was inspired by Bombjoke’s original Reddit Post that started theXeffect.

Update: Tools/Apps/Links