Q: Tell us about your experience with flossing...

I'm Randa and I hate flossing. I always feel a looming sense of dread leading up to my biannual dentist appointments. I visualize myself sitting in the dentist chair, wearing the green paper bib and feeling the cold metal chain against my neck.

"Have you been flossing?"

When I was a kid, I would foolishly lie. As an adult, I know better, and for the record I think it's cruel that dental hygienists ask this question to which they fully know the answer, just to shame us into action. I'll get back to shame later.

This twice yearly event creates so much anticipatory anxiety in my life. I could quell that anxiety (as well as prevent additional cavities) by simply adopting a flossing habit. Why hadn't I? Because who likes bleeding from their mouth?

Q: You are on a 21 day flossing streak. What changed?  Do you have any tips for aspiring flossers?

I've tried habit apps before. I've tried flossing one tooth. I've tried flossing at work when I wanted to take a break. I've tried floss that tastes good. None of this worked.

What worked was a combination of insight from the "Tiny Habits" philosophy plus the role of encouragement from my friends. Not to mention the shame I would feel if I failed. I don't care what a dental hygienist thinks of me really, but I do care if my friends think I don't accomplish my goals.

The nitty gritty:

  1. I made a habit to floss every day. I flossed sometimes, but inconsistently.
  2. I updated my habit to only require myself to floss on Mondays and I told my friends. I'm most motivated at the beginning of the week, so I figured that might work.
  3. I flossed on Monday. And then again on Tuesday. And Wednesday just because. When I reduced the perceived effort to achieve my goal, I procrastinated less and developed a consistent habit.

Don't require too much of yourself at first. If you can floss one day a week and feel good about it, start with that.

Q: In our recent email exchange, you wrote that you have become more self forgiving.  What motivated this change?

I've been telling everyone I know to read this book called Self-Compassion. Most SnapHabit users are probably high achievers who want to improve themselves. I love self-improvement. However, sometimes I mistake my desire to improve for an excuse to be unkind to myself.

As it turns out, self-criticism isn't very useful for self-improvement. When you criticize yourself, it's easy to get caught up in those negative self beliefs which in turn make it hard to move forward. Another relevant read is Mindset by Carol Dweck. Now, as much as I can help it, if I come across something challenging or make a mistake, I give myself a proverbial hug and tell myself it's ok. And then I usually overcome the challenge in less time than I would have had I dwelled in self-criticism.

Q: Why do you use SnapHabit (other than because you know the people building it)?

I use SnapHabit because it makes it socially acceptable for me to text my friends about flossing. In truth, I think it's both important and useful to involve my friends in achieving my goals. I want them to know what I'm working towards so that they can support me, and I like to do the same for them.

Q: Where can people learn more about you?

  1. Check out my SnapHabit profile #comingsoon
  2. Connect with me on LinkedIn
  3. Watch this rap video I made 6 years ago to get an internship (which is how I met Jake!)

Download SnapHabit on iOS here and Android here.