How this works
Every month, I publish a list of the habits I am currently trying to incorporate into my life (such as ‘do two sets of pull ups every day’). I document my successes and failures, and then I punish myself for the latter – $100 for every time I break a habit!
The rationale behind it
I realize my obsessive documentation, and especially the self-punishing aspect of this, may seem rather extreme to most people…
So why do I do this?
I firmly believe that you have to chip away at your goals EVERY day, for YEARS, in order to be successful. Only this kind of mad persistence builds success. There are no overnight breakthroughs, no short cuts and no magic pills. Whoever tries to tell you otherwise is probably in for your money.
And still, people fall for the allure of quick success all the time. Because the idea of doing the same thing, over and over again, is so unappealing that most of us don’t want to put the work in. Those are the people who have trouble building habits – the ones who run after every new quick fix scheme, only to be disappointed yet again.
Then there are those who initially grasp the concept of building habits, but they – building – fail to go through with them. They start a diet or a new workout regimen, or any other kind of ambitious long term project; and initially, they are counting their calories and clocking hours at the gym each week. Six months later, however, these types are exactly where they started. Nothing has changed because they dropped the habit along the way.
That’s is where “good intentions” will reliably get you to: to nowhere. They are simply not enough to carry you through the years and years it takes to become successful at something. You can deny this as much as you want, but all you have to do is take a good look at your own history of failed diets and struggles to get fit quick.
Good intentions are never enough – it’s all about following through.
But let’s imagine for a second that someone literally put a gun to your head everyday and said: “Go work out today.” You’d probably grab the nearest set of dumbbells that very minute. Your personal thoughts on working out wouldn’t even come into play, since the stakes would be so incredibly high. If someone put a gun to your head, you would work out first thing in the morning, every day.
And that’s the kind of setup I’m trying to recreate with my monthly habits report. By documenting my habits and holding myself accountable, by making my struggles public and especially by punishing non-productive behaviour, I think I stand a much better chance of realizing my goals than someone just hoping for the best.
Extraordinary results take extraordinary measures, after all. It’s easy to laugh these measures off as crazy, but then don’t be surprised at the end of the day (or your life), when you have nothing but the same average successes as everybody else.
So, let the craziness begin! Here is how I did with my habits in July (unless noted differently, the habit in question is to be executed daily):
Sleeping (Mon–Thur, Sun)
About two hours before bedtime, dim the lights in my apartment → $0 fee
About two hours before bedtime, turn off my computer → $0 fee
About an hour before bedtime, listen to an audiobook or read some fiction to relax → $0 fee
Go to bed around 1 am (paused since 06/19/15) → $0 fee
Wake up without an alarm → $0 fee
Lay down for at least another hour if I wake up after less than 8 hours of sleep → $0 fee
Eating for Health and Energy
Take my supplements (vitamin D, fish oil, etc.) → $0 fee
Eat a primal diet → $0 fee
If possible, even while traveling, buy organic meat and eggs (paused since 07/27/15) → $0 fee
Eat fish once a week → $0 fee
Eating for Fat Loss
Measure my waistline and record the numbers → $0 fee
Update my food diary for the previous day → $0 fee
Take a walk → $0 fee
Only go online to get work done or to communicate with others → $0 fee
Update my inbox, my tickler, and my action-pending items → $0 fee
At the very least, touch on my most important item for today → $0 fee
At the very least, touch on my most urgent item for today → $0 fee
My PhD Thesis
Work on my thesis first thing in the morning → $0 fee
Track the amount of time I spend working on my thesis and record it → $0 fee
In total, work on my thesis for at least an hour every day → $0 fee
Work on publishing a new article → $0 fee
Read part of a self-help book (to keep me inspired and learning about the writing style) → $0 fee
Publish two posts per week, one on each of my two blogs → $0 fee
Work on my 10 minute squat test → $0 fee
Do two sets of pistols, bicycle crunches, pull ups and handstand push ups → $0 fee
Watch some of a mobility / fitness video and take notes → $0 fee
Watch some of a BJJ video and take notes → $0 fee
Train BJJ two times a week → $100 fee
Floss → $0 fee
Study some Russian on Rosetta Stone Online → $0 fee
Apply *** → $0 fee
Do *** → $0 fee
Record *** → $0 fee
Watch *** → $0 fee
Do *** → $0 fee
M*** → $0 fee
Total Amount to Pay: $100
From July 14 to July 17 and from July 26 to July 29 I made do with a reduced habit program; first, I had a visitor from Germany over for my birthday in Vilnius, then I got a chance to hang out with a blogger idol of mine for a couple of days in Prague. I agreed with myself beforehand that I would stick to the following minimum program during those times, which I did:
Work on my PhD
Do my fitness exercises
Update my GTD system
Eat a primal diet (as much as possible)
As you can see here, I already set up the payment via stickK.com. The $100 will go to a charity of their choosing.
Until next month!