England is feeling charged up about making the finals of the Euros for the first time since the 1960s. Meanwhile, I am still glued to Wimbledon and excited for the championship weekend! Not a football fan quite yet...
In the world of ideas, I was a guest on Katie Stoddart’s The Focus Bee Show last week talking about mindful productivity, the future of work, and the importance of equanimity. Listen in on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
ONE IDEA | Going Pro with Habits
If you need to fix a nasty leak in the bathroom, you’d hire a plumber.
If you need help to file your taxes, you’d hire an accountant.
But if you want to develop a new skill, quit a bad habit, or improve yourself in any way, what would you do?
For years, I tricked myself into believing that a combination of self-control, discipline, and willpower would equal personal behavior change.
I could keep myself consistently going to the gym.
I could cook healthier meals and go plant-based.
I could keep up a daily journaling practice.
I could quit eating sugar.
But guess what? I was wrong.
The Power of Group Accountability
Over many years of experimentation, I've learned there is a paradox in self-development: in order to improve myself, I need to rely on others.
Group accountability is one of the only “hacks” I’ve found that can bridge the gap between your Ideal Self and your Actual Self.
The early inspiration to start or quit a habit creates initial success, but then motivation wanes, normal life gets in the way, and you find yourself back where you started.
In order to overcome this cycle, I've come to see the importance of enlisting the support of others.
There are so many ways to do this, from joining a fitness community to setting up challenges with a coworker, but I’ve found that to get serious, consistent accountability, it can help to go pro.
Going Pro with Accountability: Habit Coaching
Last year, I completed an 8-week Habit Coach Certification with Coach.me. A few of you on this list volunteered to join me as ‘coachees’ during the training.
While I'm not actively coaching, habit coaching has been a game-changer for me personally.
What’s a habit coach?
It’s someone who keeps you accountable to taking the daily actions that are necessary to master habits.
While a more traditional life or business coach helps you accomplish long-term goals, a habit coach starts with the smallest atomic unit of personal change: habits.
While traditional coaching usually happens on video, phone, or in-person every week or so, habit coaching is often done daily via a text-based platform.
Why do habits matter?
In the words of James Clear, “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
Habits are mental shortcuts that we rely on constantly, and they are what powers any larger personal transformation.
Now when I first heard about habit coaches, I thought it was a silly idea. But when I actually tried one myself, it changed my entire perspective.
Over the past 9 months, I’ve worked with coaches to support me on a variety of habits, from reading more to sustaining a daily journaling practice.
Having a coach does not mean it’s easy. I’m not perfect, and I’ve missed a lot of days along the way. Even so, it’s amazing how accountable I can feel to someone who is more or less a stranger.
Right now, I’m working with a coach to improve my daily writing habit. She checks in every day to see if I’ve done my 30 minutes. Simple as that.
I know it sounds silly to hire a coach to help you form a habit, but I do believe habit coaches are insanely valuable.
Behavior change is so hard, and while we are willing to invest time and money into things like our homes, our cars, or our vacations, we hesitate to invest the same in ourselves.
Maybe habit coaching isn’t for you, and that’s okay!
This is just my way of sharing something I wish I learned about a long time ago.
While habit coaches are amazing, they might not fit your needs. If you are looking for accountability, there are plenty of other ways to find it. Here are a few that I’ve tried.
Find an accountability buddy. Look for a friend or colleague who might want added support to reach a goal. Use each other to check in and stay motivated. A simple daily text or a weekly call can work wonders.
Commit to a community. Finding a group of like-minded people who are committed to a similar goal is huge. Whether it's a local gym class you attend regularly, or an interest group for a hobby that you find on Meetup.com, getting connected to a community can help a lot.
Mark a calendar. Even if you’re trying to accomplish a goal alone, make yourself publicly accountable to your partner, housemates, or family by keeping a tally of your habit in a place for all to see.
Words of Wisdom
"If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together."
— Ancient Proverb