Have you ever tried to write a novel?  What a job!  Here are two pages about a doctor in my unnamed novel.  I am sure you have worked on some of the habits she was considering one morning recently.

As a successful OB-GYN Dr. Wendy Phillips had had to be disciplined. She was used to making decisions about her life and following through on them.  One morning driving towards Starbucks she had a brainstorm: “I’m going to put 7 habits onto 3 x 5” cards while I’m waiting in line to get my coffee” she told herself. 

“I’ll have to keep them short” she said to herself, “or I won’t get down 7 in this brief time.” She decided that 3 would be very easy and four would be harder.

Here is what she came up with:

Buckle up before the car moves an inch, preferably before even turning on the ignition (very, very easy).

Read a good book for at least 15 minutes a day, never less (very, very easy).

Call mom every day and just leave a message if she doesn’t answer (very, very easy).

Never ever read, write or send a text message while driving. Not once in the future (very, very, very tough).

Use an inexpensive pedometer to see if I can get to 1 million steps in the next 100 days (not hard at all but it will take some discipline attaching the pedometer to all the different clothes I wear from getting up in the morning until bedtime). 

No sweets 5 out of the next 7 days (not easy at all):

Dental floss twice a day 5 out of the next 7 days.  “Now I am averaging one time a day, so this is going to take some effort” she thought to herself.

Wendy knew that 3 of these would be very easy – a piece of cake, namely, fastening that seat belt every single time, calling mom every day and reading a good book for 15 minutes every day.  Most of these she was doing almost perfectly already.

One habit that would be a new habit was going to be just plain fun: getting an inexpensive pedometer and checking out how much she was walking and running daily.  Every day she walked lots in her office, lots at the hospital and she regularly ran several miles at a time several days a week.  So it would be fun just seeing how much she was exceeding 10,000 steps a day or 1 million steps in 100 days.  She promised herself to go to get a pedometer in the next day or so she could get going on this one.

The toughest would definitely be doing no text messaging at all while driving.  She realized that this one could save her or another person’s life.  She had been feeling guilty about this one for a long while now and had had one very close call that scared her lots.  She knew she just had to succeed on this one.

As she drove away from Starbucks Dr. Wendy Phillips felt good the way she always felt good when she committed herself to practices that would make her a better person.

I am inspired by Wendy:  I will make out a set of 3 x 5 inch cards, myself, today!

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, Georgia