I’m writing my next book, Before and After, about how we make and break habits–an issue very relevant to happiness. Each week, I’ll post a before-and-after story submitted by a reader, about how he or she successfully changed a habit. We can all learn from each other. If you’d like to share your story, contact me here.
This week's story comes from someone who wants to stay anonymous.
As I was staring down the barrel of turning 50, I decided it was time to get up off the couch and get in shape. It had been years since I had exercised and truly watched what I ate. I just couldn't be fat and fifty. Since there was nothing to do about turning 50, I decided to tackle the fat. For my 48th birthday I gave myself two gifts: a membership to Weight Watchers and a personal trainer at the gym. I need accountability, so having to answer to someone else was the push I needed to keep me headed in the right direction. Six years later, I still work out with a trainer and am probably the "fittest" I have ever been. Now, if only I could break the Diet Coke habit.
The Strategy of Accountability is one of the most effective strategies for habit-formation, and for Obligers, of course, external accountability is absolutely crucial.
But even for people who are Upholders, Questioners, or Rebels, accountability makes a big difference. We behave differently when we know that other people will know what we did, and if we know that there will be consequences.
Also, this reader drew on the Strategy of Thinking -- when an idea, such as the idea of turning fifty, acts as a catalyst for change.
Have you found ways to hold yourself accountable? Have you ever been inspired to change a big habit because of an idea such as reaching a milestone birthday?