The Power of Accountability in Forming Healthy Habits
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Have you ever tried to tackle a new health venture or habit change, and decided to do it alone? I have several times, and on every occasion things didn’t work out as well as planned… When I first tried to change my diet to one that was based on whole, plant foods, it lasted about 5-6 months before it fizzled out, and I went back to my old habits.
When I first began meditating and didn’t tell anyone else, and my practice was sporadic at best.
For a long time I thought it was a sign of weakness to ask for help. I was proud of being a lone wolf, and didn’t want to bother others. Over time I have learned that this kind of thinking can only get you so far. Sure, you can do good things alone, but we humans are tribal animals at heart. We work best when we combine our talents, all working towards a common goal. We can achieve a lot more when we come together and help each other out.
Accountability and Habit Changing
The next time you set a goal or decide to change a habit, make sure you have some form of support network in place.
This can be in the form of likeminded individuals, loved ones, even online forums or an accountability app. Pick anyone or anything that understands where you’re at and where you want to be. From my experience, most people like to rally around a big goal, and will be happy to lend a hand.
Remember to break down you’re goal down into small, achievable steps. Then keep your accountability partner (or app) updated on your progress.
Are you looking to run five miles over the next week? Tell them your plans, and give them the result at the end of the week. Whether you meet the goal or not, they’ll keep you motivated to reach it eventually.
Being accountable to someone significantly increases your chances of success. It’s rewarding to follow through with your ideas, especially after sharing those ideas with others.
If you want to take things further, you can set external rewards and consequences for your weekly goals. If you follow through on your plan, perhaps you get to see that movie you’ve wanted to see for ages. If you fail, maybe you have to pay your accountability partner some money, or do a dance in public. The more fun your rewards are, the more motivated you’ll stay.
Some people respond better to the positive feedback rather than the negative, so maybe have a play around and pick what works for you.
Time to Take Action
Had I not had the help of my girlfriend and family, I probably would have failed at my second attempt at changing my diet.
Had I not used the Headspace app as an accountability tool for my meditation, I probably would have carried on aimlessly, never forming a solid practice. When I put the support network in place and started to become accountable for my actions, I was able to break through the plateau and reach new heights in my habit-changing journey.
Do the same, and I’m sure you’ll notice the benefits too.