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. These are the people who run after every new quick fix scheme, only to be disappointed yet again.
Then there are those who initially grasp the concept of forming the right habits, but fail to go through with it. 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.
I repeat: Good intentions are never enough.
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 grab the nearest set of dumbbells that very second. 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 to show for.
So, let the craziness begin! Here is how I did with my habits in November (unless noted differently, the habit in question is to be executed daily):
Core Habits (punishable by $100)
- Wake up without an alarm → $0 fee
- Go back to sleep, in case I wake up too early → $0 fee
- Do my *** [undisclosed habit] → $0 fee
- Take my supplements → $0 fee
- Work on my thesis first thing in the morning → $0 fee
- Count words written that day → $0 fee
- Stop and record time spent working on thesis → $0 fee
- Apply *** [undisclosed habit] → $0 fee
- Floss my teeth → $0 fee
- Take a walk → $0 fee
- Record *** [undisclosed habit] → $0 fee
- Do *** [undisclosed habit] → $0 fee
- Buy primal groceries → $0 fee
- Write a new blog post
- Publish a new blog post
- Workout; do two sets of each: Deep squat test, bicycle crunches, box pistols, push ups, pull ups → $0 fee
- Analyze *** [undisclosed habit] → $0 fee
- Update my GTD system → $0 fee
- Only go online to get work done or to take care of necessary communication; only check emails / Facebook / other websites for fun once a day → $0 fee
- Update my food diary → $0 fee
- Update my habits diary → $0 fee
- About two hours before I go to bed, turn off the lights in my apartment and light a candle → $0 fee
- About two hours before I go to bed, turn off my computer and cell phone → $0 fee
- Cook and eat a primal dinner → $0 fee
- About an hour before I go to bed, listen to an audiobook or read some fiction → $0 fee
Optional Habits (as I can fit them in)
- Study some Russian
- Continue reading a self-help book
- Watch *** [undisclosed habit]
- Watch a mobility / fitness instructional on YouTube and take notes
- At least touch on my most important task for today
- At least touch on my most urgent task for today
- At least touch on one of my other tasks
Weekly Habits (punishable by $100)
- Eat a primal diet (3 cheat meals allowed) → $0 fee
- At least once a week, eat fish → $0 fee
- At least three times a week, *** [undisclosed habit] → $0 fee
Again, I was a good boy this month… No fees to be paid. I have developed a much better feeling now for how long certain habits will typically take me, and therefore have an easier time structuring my day successfully – getting all my habits done. Very encouraging.
Until next month!