What makes a good habit for Rule #4? (Three times a week is a habit)

I’m having so much fun hearing from people about how they’re trying out the Tranquility by Tuesday rules!

Rule #4 is that “Three times a week is a habit.” The idea is that things don’t have to happen daily in our lives in order to count. We’re best off examining the week — 168 hours — as a whole, and seeing if we can do something often rather than always. I maintain that anything happening three times a week can be part of your identity.

So, to follow Rule #4, you need to think about an activity that you’d like to have be a frequent part of your life, and see if you can do that thing three times a week. Many times, people find they are already doing this activity once or even twice a week, it just feels infrequent because they’re looking at individual days, and they don’t have a target number for how often they should be doing it. The beauty of this rule is that I give an answer. Three!

Anyway, a few folks have asked what sorts of activities best fit this rule. I’d say the answer is anything that you enjoy and that you think adds value to your life, but that you don’t necessarily do as often as you think you “should” (whatever that means).

For me, the answer is run, play the piano, and eat family meals. I aim to do each of those things at least three times per week.

Maybe you have activities that are similar to these. Plenty of people might aim to go to the gym (or lift weights, or do yoga) three times per week (Rule #3 is about getting little bits of physical activity but that’s different from full formal workouts).

They might aim to practice a musical instrument or some other skill (like a language). They might do some sort of creative activity, like journaling three times per week, or writing “morning pages” three times per week, or painting three times a week. It could be a hobby like knitting or scrapbooking or woodworking. Or maybe you want to cook more, and so you aim to cook three times per week.

I think relationships can benefit from this “three times a week is a habit” mindset too — hence my inclusion of family meals. It might be getting one on one time with a kid, or connecting with a friend in some fashion. Some people might aim to do spiritual activities three times per week (building a relationship with the divine…), like reading a sacred text, or following a devotional prompt.

Now, I know with that last one, some folks might think, well, if it’s a priority, shouldn’t it be daily? And certainly you could decide to do something daily. I write my 100 words and read my Shakespeare daily. Back when I was doing my running streak, I ran daily. But when your life is complex, and contains many moving parts, it can be really hard to do something every single day. Often, aiming for three times a week is far more doable, and allows a habit to be part of your life as life actually is, not in some perfect version where nothing ever goes awry. It might be quite doable to pray daily, but if your goal is reading a sacred text for 15-20 minutes, that’s the sort of thing that might feel more feasible at a three times a week pace.

A few folks also asked how this is different from Rule #7: Take one night for you. Since we’re talking about adding fun stuff to life, aren’t both these rules getting at the same thing?

In a sense, yes, but Rule #7 is ideally about making a commitment to something that happens at a specific time, like a choir, a softball team, a tennis class, a volunteer gig. Rule #4 can be fulfilled by things that are more flexible or require less time. You could sing in a choir as Rule #7, but practice singing three times per week as Rule #4.

What activities are you focusing on for Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit?

In other news: I was a guest on Jon Acuff’s All it Takes is a Goal podcast this week! We talked finite schedules and infinite possibilities. It was great fun talking to Jon, so please check it out!

I was also on Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence’s The Book Marketing Action Podcast last week. Many books in, I’ve learned a few things about building platforms and trying to convince people to buy books. Probably not as much as I’d like to learn (have you bought a copy yet?) but maybe my tips will be helpful for other authors.

In case you missed it, I was also on Hal Elrod’s Achieve Your Goals podcast last week, and Maya Gudka’s Golden Hour podcast. I’ll keep sharing more of these over the next few weeks!


13 thoughts on “What makes a good habit for Rule #4? (Three times a week is a habit)

  1. I totally agree. I’ve dropped the goal of working out 4x per week (the number of days the program I’m in offers convenient class options) and I’m just aiming for 3x per week. If I do the fourth, great, but I’ve found that I usually find it too hard to get up early a fourth day. I’m tired of feeling badly that I don’t make use of that fourth day (there is a very small financial component to this, as I pay the same amount whether I attend 3 or 4 days per week, but I am just not going to worry about it).

  2. I am looking for some sort of app or tracker that can handle a habit streak that only happens 3x week. Is there such a thing? I’ve not read the book yet, but I did pre-order!

    1. I recommend Habitica! It’s an app that helps “gamify” your to-do list, and it includes habits, To-Do items, and repeating tasks aka Dailies (which can occur on a schedule, like taking out the trash one evening per week).

  3. As you know, this rule was transformative for me.
    I wanted to launch a website/blog, and used this rule to propel me forward. I told myself I only needed to write/post three times a week and that would make it a habit. It stuck, and now I post 5x/week and have LOVED the experience.

  4. I used this rule as a jumping off place for getting more regular movement in my life. I’m extremely active but I find my body thrives when I am moving everyday in different ways. So I’ve actually made twice a week a habit for several different things. Walking twice a week at the beach (I live in Florida), and yoga classes twice a week – 1 zoom & 1 in person class, and social dancing two evenings a week. To top it off I walk in the mornings with friends so I get the social time and the accountability to get me up early. I love this rule because it helped me get away from thinking I had to do something every morning or I was a failure and brought me to a very creative solution that works great for me!

  5. I remember you mentioning this rule back when you were doing case studies in preparation for writing this book. I think you were working with someone who was beating herself up for not working out as much as she’d like and you told her 3 times/week is a habit. This is probably the rule that resonates the most with me. Prior to having kids, I worked out 5-6 times/week but that isn’t realistic these days with our schedule and my health. I used to think I had to work out 5-6 times/week to consider myself an “active” person, but I have relaxed my standards and aim for 3 times/week, especially now that I’m back in the office 3 days/week. When I was WFH full time during the pandemic, it was way easier to fit in more workouts but it’s way trickier now that I’m out of the house at 6:45 3 days/week. And it’s not like I’m not active on those other days – I still try to get walks in, but 3 times/week feels like a reasonable goal for running + strength training.

    I need to figure out what else I could aim to do 3 times/week, though! I think probably something along the lines of communication. Now that I’m off social media, I have to be more intentional about connecting with people so having a defined goal of reaching out to 3 people/week seems pretty doable as it could just be a quick “thinking of you text” or asking what is new/going on in their lives.

  6. The activities I am focusing on this week are:
    1) Sort and declutter – I don’t know that this activity is actually fun, but I think having it as an activity will help me get done what I want to get done.
    2) Physical Therapy exercises – This one I do need to do daily, though.
    3) Singing (This is actually not for this week but for future weeks. We are beginning a big work.)
    4) Walking – Usually, I do this three times a week but for the last several weeks I have not done it regularly.

    1. @Barbara – these are all great ideas! Yes, this can work for things that are not necessarily “fun” but that we feel are important too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *