Frequently Asked Questions

Habits

Habits are routine tasks, skills, or patterns of thought that have been repeated until they are an automatic response. They become your “default mode” when you encounter a familiar situation.
Habits reduce the number of routine decisions we need to make and allow our brains to focus on other things, which helps us function more efficiently. Good habits help us acquire skills and build positive character traits. They lower our stress level and prevent the “decision fatigue” that leads to willpower depletion and bad decisions. Well-chosen habits create enjoyment and help us to live a life that’s in tune with our values. Most importantly, habits define who we are. We are, or we become, what we repeatedly do.
It’s a group of habits that work together to achieve a goal. It’s also the process of designing a set of habits that define the life you want to live.
Select Habits from the main menu and click Add Habit in the upper right corner. If you know what habit you want to acquire, the Search for a New Habit textbox will help you find it in the database. If you have a general idea what you want to accomplish but aren’t sure what habits to start with, select Search for a New Habit by Category from the dropdown menu and then choose a category and topic to get a list of suggested habits. If you can’t find what you’re looking for after these searches, you can create your own habit.
Yes. Select Habits from the main menu and click Add Habit in the upper right corner. If you can’t find the habit you want with either search option, click on Create my own habit at the bottom of the page.
  • Reminders are optional text or email prompts. You can set these up in your user settings.
  • Auto-complete will automatically check off a habit. Once a habit has become second nature, there’s really no point in recording it day after day. This option saves you time and effort.
  • Track habit streaks will let you know how many consecutive days you’ve performed a habit. You probably won’t want to track all your habits streaks, but for some habits, tracking a streak can add an extra boost of motivation. After three consecutive days, you’ll see daily streak reports on your Feed.
Start with one to three habits. Remember that you’re not just acquiring habits, you’re learning how to acquire habits. Every habit you acquire increases your capacity for habit acquisition. If you start with too many new habits, however, you run the risk of not acquiring any. A long list with more habits than you can reasonably complete develops the habit of non-completion. It creates a mindset that your chosen habits are optional. This is incredibly counterproductive.
Your brain operates on a “use it or lose it” principle. Once a habit is formed, the neural pathways in your brain remain, but if you avoid the habit, these connections weaken over time. You can also replace a bad habit by substituting a more positive routine, something that delivers a similar reward and is triggered by a familiar cue. Another way of putting a bad habit behind you is to crowd it out with good habits.

Neuroscientists have a long list of conditions that determine “automaticity.” Here’s a short list. If you meet these conditions, you can be fairly confident that a behavior has become a habit.

  • You consistently do a behavior in response to a strong cue. For example, you exercise every day after work.
  • You do the behavior without making a conscious decision. When the workday ends, you head right to the gym.
  • It’s easier to do the behavior than not do it. If you don’t hit the gym, it feels like something’s missing.
  • If you miss a day due to unusual circumstances, you’re confident that you’ll get back to the habit tomorrow. You don’t feel that “breaking the streak” also breaks the habit.
  • You identify with the behavior. Instead of thinking, “I swim laps every evening,” you think, “I’m a swimmer.”

Let’s start with “boring.” Turning a routine behavior into a habit save time and energy. You spend less thought and effort on things you need to do, and have more time and energy left for things you find more interesting. So good habits help you minimize “boring” routine tasks.

But not all habits focus on routine tasks. You can—in fact, you should—cultivate the habit of doing things that are personally meaningful. When you add favorite activities and treats to your habit system, you’re adding enjoyment to your life.

Are habits controlling? If the idea of not making decisions troubles you, remember this: A habit is simply a decision you’ve already made. It’s your choice, reinforced through repetition and reward. Creating a habit system is about taking control of your life, not abdicating it. If you’re working on a habit that feels controlling, it’s a good idea to examine your reasons for pursuing this habit. Is it something you want, or are you doing it for someone else? Does this habit move you toward something you value, or is it just something you think you “should” do?

Habits are actions. When you’re doing things, you greatly increase your opportunities for interesting, spontaneous acts. Good habits are also a great way to get unstuck. If you’re feeling stuck or in a rut, you’re probably not experiencing much spontaneity.

Categories

Some people start GIDIG knowing exactly what habits they want to acquire, so all they need is a Search function. Other people, however, might have a general idea of what they want to accomplish but aren’t sure where to begin. Categories and topics provide a way to organize the data base and guide users toward habits that will help them meet their goals. Categories start with broad strokes: health, exercise, home, work, learning, money, social, and self. The topics within each category are more specific, and each topic includes a list of suggested habits.
Exercise is an important component of good health, but there are many other reasons to exercise. Sports such as tennis, racquetball, and softball might be a big part of your social life. Your work strategies may include playing golf to network with business associates and clients. Dance classes or martial arts studies might satisfy your desire to learn new things. Rather than try to shoe-horn exercise into a single category, we gave it one of its own.
No, not at this time.
Not necessarily. Your habit system is unique, and it should focus on the habits that will help you achieve your goals and pursue your interests. Your habit system is also fluid, and you’ll probably find that your emphasis will shift over time. For example, once you’ve built better health habits, you’ll have more energy to devote to exercise, learning, and social habits.
A person’s values are reflected in every aspect of life. You’ll find habits in every category that have spiritual as well as secular applications. If your values include helping others, see the Social category for habits such as volunteering, mentoring, and performing acts of kindness. If you want to cultivate the habit of studying religious texts on a regular basis, set up habits in the Learning category. Habits such as meditation and spending time in nature are included in stress management, a topic in the Health section. The best place to start, however, is the Spirituality topic in the Self category. You’ll find many of these crossover habits listed there, as well as habits such as prayer and worship.

Cues

A cue is something that triggers a habitual behavior. Cues can include places, situations, advertisements, scents, music, emotions—anything that sets a habit in motion.
Many cues are obvious. When your alarm clock rings, you get out of bed and go through your morning routine on autopilot. Sometimes, however, it might take some trial and error to uncover what’s really triggering a habit. If the cue isn’t obvious, try to identify what reward or benefit you derive from the habit. Asking the “Five Whys” is a good way to dig down to the roots of a habit.
Yes. One cue can trigger a “habit chain.” This is a good thing to keep in mind, because adding a new habit to a well-established routine can often help you acquire the habit more quickly.
It’s very helpful. If you don’t understand what triggers a habit, you’ll have more difficulty avoiding undesirable routines and establishing new ones. Self-awareness doesn’t come easily, but it’s an important part of habit acquisition.
First off, learn from them! They can tell you a lot about yourself. What craving does the bad habit satisfy? What reward are you getting from it? In many cases, identifying the cue and reward makes it easier to substitute a more positive routine. For some habits, however, the best tactic is to change your environment to avoid or minimize a cue. Going through your cupboards and tossing out snack foods is a good first step toward developing a no-snacking habit.

Data

We take data security very seriously and employ standard industry practices and multiple levels of security. You can help by using secure networks and protecting your password.
Your name, email address, and personal information will never be shared or sold to anyone.
If you’re working with a habit partner or mentor, you choose what data they can view. GIDIG programmers write code that will graphically display your information based on data and display ads relevant to your interest and habits, but we will only view your personal data at your request to deal with technical issues. Like most online services, we have a small number of employees who must be able to access user data on rare occasions for the reasons stated in our privacy policy (e.g., when legally required to do so). We have strict policy and technical access controls that prohibit employee access except in these rare circumstances.

Goals

Goals are dreams with data. They are specific, measurable, and achievable. A goal is not a vague statement such as “I’d like to get in better shape,” but a plan of action: “I will walk 10K steps every day.” Every GIDIG goal has a recording habit. Some of these are based on data, such as recording your weight to measure your progress toward your weight goal, while others require a subjective judgment, such as a daily 1-10 scale.

Select Feed from the main menu and scroll down to My Goals. Select, then click the New Goal link in the upper right corner.

There are two ways to create a goal. The GIDIG database includes goals in each category, which you can select and edit as needed, or you can create your own goal. The Purpose field is optional but helpful. Identifying your reasons for working toward a goal helps you understand your motivation and helps you own the process.

Choose a Unit of measurement from the dropdown list, then identify the Timeframe (daily, weekly, by a certain date) in which you plan to achieve the goal. The Set Goal field lets you add a numerical target, such as increasing to a certain number, decreasing, or maintaining a range.

A goal must be measurable, so you’ll need a measurement habit. When you chose a Unit of measurement, GIDIG creates a list of your existing habits associated with that measurement. Chose the one that applies. If you don’t have a measurement habit for this goal, select Habits from the main menu and take a moment to set one up.

The final field, My habits that support this goal, helps you see how your habits work together. It’s optional but recommended.

Select Feed from the main menu and scroll down to My Goals. Click on a goal to see charts showing your performance over the last week and your progress to date.

Groups

Your habit partner will see only what you decide to share, nothing more. He will not be able to see your personal information or any information about your other habits.
Select Feed from the main menu and scroll down to My Groups. Click the New Group link in the upper right corner and fill out the fields to create your new group. You can then send email invitations to people you’d like to include.
Yes. When someone received an email invitation to join a group, they will also receive instruction on how to sign up for GIDIG.
Partner
You and another person are both working on the same habit. You can share several habits with one partner. You can also have more than one partner to work on different habits.
Mentor
One person supports, encourages, or teaches another person.
Family
Family members can work on new habits together. This is also a great tool for parents to teach habit acquisition to younger children.
Team
This is for a group for people who are working together on a task or project. This would work well for a writing or study group.
Club
This is for book clubs, fantasy football leagues—any group of people working together to establish a shared social habit.
Select Feed from the main menu and click on New Post in the upper right corner. Type your post into the text box. You can add a title (click Show Title) if you like. Click on the photo icon if you’d like to add an image. You can send the message to a single person or to the entire group. The message will appear on your partner’s or group members’ newsfeed.

Recording

Every day. Daily recording increases mindfulness and helps you keep focused on the habits. Daily recording is so important to habit acquisition that it’s the first habit in your habit system. You don’t have to set it up—The GIDIG Habit (daily recording) is automatically added to your habits when you subscribe.
The GIDIG Habit is simply the act of recording all your habits by the end of the day (midnight in your time zone.) This habit is recorded automatically when you complete your daily recording. You’ll get a daily “I did it!” response when you record all your habits, and your GIDIG Habit streak will appear on your feed.
Yes, you can. Select Record from the main menu, or follow the Record button at the top of your Feed page. You can choose to view a single day or all unrecorded habits.
Yes. On the Record page, click History in the upper right corner. Click the habit you’d like to change to go to a complete listing of your entries. You can edit any of the records. You can also access the History by choosing Habits from the main menu and selecting the habit you’d like to change.
You can get to your habit history from either the Record page or the Habits page. . On the Record page, click History in the upper right corner. Click the habit you’d like to change to go to a complete listing of your entries for that habit. You can edit any of the records. You can also access the History by choosing Habits from the main menu and selecting the habit you’d like to change.
You can if you want to, but if you’d like to save time and effort, you can put the habit on auto-complete. Select Habits from the menu, click on the habit you’d like to alter, and click edit. Check the box for Auto-complete, and the habit will be automatically recorded every day. If you decide to change back to daily recording, just uncheck the box.
Yes. If for some reason you miss a day, you can go into your habit history and change the record. Select Habits from the main menu, click on the habit and select history, then edit the entry.

Rewards

They’re not just important, they’re vital. Your brain responds to a reward by releasing chemicals that strengthen the neural connection. No reward, no habit.
Some habits are rewarding in and of themselves. Spending time with friends, attending a weekly wine tasting, or taking a walk are inherently enjoyable. Some habits give you a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, increased competence, or closure. Sometimes the reward isn’t immediately apparent; for example, you might head to the office cafeteria every afternoon for coffee and a cookie. The primary reward that’s driving this habit might be the desire to socialize, or to take a break from work, rather than the hit of caffeine and sugar. Ask yourself what craving drives the habit. It also helps to focus on the feeling or benefit you get from doing the habit, rather than the long term results.
Rewards that relate directly to the habit are most effective. The closer they come to the performance of the habit, the more impact they’ll have. Rewards should be things that matter to you, things that you choose. External rewards such as approval, awards, treats, and money are effective, but only as long as they keep coming. For an action to truly become a habit, you need to have your own reason for doing it.
You can add or change rewards at any time. In fact, you probably will. The process of habit acquisition is a lot like climbing a mountain. The view keeps changing, and you see things from a different perspective.
That’s not uncommon. If you feel that a behavior is being imposed upon you, you will respond in one of two ways: compliance or defiance. That’s why it’s so important to identify your own, personal, meaningful reasons for pursuing a habit. If you don’t believe something is worth doing, it probably won’t become a habit.
Yes, you can. When you’re setting up a habit, after you click Add habit, you can select from a drop-down list of rewards you’ve already identified or click New to add a new reward.

Settings

Anything you want! Maybe your motivation for starting a habit system is getting down to a certain dress size for an upcoming wedding. Or perhaps you’re determined to get control of your finances and start saving for college or retirement. If you’re a parent, you might want to set an example for your kids of what good habits can accomplish. Your purpose might be more general, such as getting unstuck, taking control of your life, or becoming healthy and fit.
Yes. Click Edit, scroll down to Avatar.
No problem! That’s an option you can choose when you’re setting up a habit. If you want to discontinue any reminders or messages, you can change your preferences in the Edit mode of your Settings page.
Select Settings from the main menu, click Edit, scroll down to Cancel my account. Keep in mind that canceling your account will remove your data. If you need to take a break from GIDIG for whatever reason, you might want to consider changing your Status from active to not active.
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