Being Accountable for a New Habit

I wrote at the beginning of the year about establishing habits instead of making resolutions (you don't hear much about resolution anymore do you?). I wrote that because I started a habit back then and wanted to see if I could keep it going six weeks.

Why six weeks? I was misinformed about how long it takes to establish a habit. I thought it was six weeks before it becomes a habit that's hard to break. It's probably longer. But six weeks is a good start.

My habit was to ride a bike 10 miles a day. It's a stationary bike — this is winter in Chicago after all.

The goal wasn't see if I could, over the six weeks, increase the speed or decrease the time. It was just to ride a bike 10 miles every day. No other restrictions.

The overall objective wasn't really even to ride the bike. It was to make a break in the day to be more active and healthy, which can have a cascading effect on the rest of your life. But the activity itself had to be clear and measurable, or I couldn't hold myself truly accountable.

There's all kinds of schemes about how to keep yourself accountable while you're establishing habit. The most popular seems to be tracking in apps like Streaks

I decided not take that route. Instead, I took a photo every day as the bike crossed the 10 mile mark and texted it to my wife. Sometimes she would send back encouragement. She even promised a dinner at my favorite restaurant if I made it a month.

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Here I am at the end of six weeks and I haven't missed a day.

There's just something more real about allowing human interaction to keep you accountable. Apps have never done it for me, but this worked. Here's to another six weeks!