I have to admit, when I was a kid I just loved getting gifts at Christmas and for my birthday. I mean what kid doesn’t?
But receiving gifts is no longer important to me. I mean, what is it they say – “What do you get the man who has everything?” I’ve been blessed to really be able to internalize how much better it feels to give than to receive.
That said, I received a gift this Christmas from my wife that has changed my life.
On December 25, I opened a small package that contained an “UP Bracelet.”
Apparently there are a few varieties, but this special bracelet measures the steps you take each day, and the hours you sleep each night. You have the ability to set your “goal” for each, and it lets you know how close you come through a smartphone app.
So, the first day I put it on was just to see how it worked. The sleeping part was easy. I go to bed around 11 most nights and go right until 7 – so that’s a solid 8 hours no problem. Next, let’s see how many steps I’d take in a normal day without going out of my way. OK, it’s 1,762 steps. Problem.
So I came up with a plan. Since people seem to be getting addicted to those long-running TV shows (ie, 24, Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, etc), I figured I’d find one that I hadn’t watched yet and “get myself addicted.” The only stipulation would be, I could ONLY watch it on the treadmill. So I picked “Sons of Anarchy.” There are 6 Seasons with 13 episodes per season.
So, on Day One, I watched the first two episodes to get myself hooked. It worked. The whole time I’m walking at 3.3 MPH (a brisk walk) on the treadmill. Oh – I weighed in at 255 on January 2.
Just the nature of these TV shows makes you want to “chain watch” five-straight episodes at a time – but on the treadmill I’D DIE! So, it was two per day. Each night, my UP Bracelet would log around 16,000 steps.
I became so addicted to the accountability of looking at the stupid little phone app that it became an obsession. In fact, one day I took off the bracelet while putting on my sweatshirt. Then I walked six miles on the treadmill but had forgotten to put the bracelet back on. Clearly I had taken “my steps” but it wasn’t going to register on the app! Damn! Disturbed (and sweaty), I put the bracelet on and walked another two episodes! That was a tough day.
Long story, I know. So, here’s the lesson.
After watching all six seasons of Sons (78 episodes and 250 miles later) I was 20 pounds lighter, walking faster (3.7 and sometimes even 3.9 MPH), and back in shape. And then I took off the bracelet.
I haven’t worn the bracelet in four weeks, but guess what? The habit has been formed. I’ve hit the treadmill (and covered my 10,000 steps easily) every single day since. I’m watching different shows . . . tried The Following, a few movies, and just rocked season one of House of Cards. But I no longer need the bracelet. The ACTION I desired has become habit.
They say it takes 30 days to form a habit. And I know that accountability helps people win.
When you’re in a business like mine – and work for yourself – the freedom is the greatest feeling in the world. But it’s also the biggest curse. There’s nobody to kick you in the butt and make you get moving each day.
That’s where accountability is key. Get yourself a “mastermind group” or an “accountability partner” where you share your goals and report back at the end of each day . . . just like the bracelet. Over the past seven years, I’ve had a business partner. He’s become my best friend because we’re accountable to each other every single day. We’re both competitive and while we don’t have actual “contests” against each other, we pick each other up. When he’s hot, I’m motivated to work harder. When he’s down, maybe I’m hot, which picks him back up. It’s been a formula that has worked. He’s my “built-in” accountability partner.
Maybe you don’t have a business partner. That’s OK. Just find somebody who has the same goals as you. Tell them you have a plan to help you both win. Then share your big, hairy, audacious goals with them and find out theirs. Then tell them what you’re going to do about it by day, by week, by month, by year. Brag about it. Report to them on it.
If you have a lot of self pride (like I do) then you’ll never let yourself lose to yourself. You’ll never cheat on yourself. You might lie to your accountability partner, but you’ll never lie to yourself. At that point, there’s only one way to go!