“We are better doing things when we are not alone”
Why being accountable helps.
Humans are social animals. As a rule, we tend to thrive in groups, do greater, more impressive things and have a higher rate of success when compared to individuals. If nothing else, difficult tasks are made easier with helping hands. So why should we make the difficult task of changing our eating habits any harder by doing it all alone?
Here are just some of the reasons why making ourselves accountable to others is helpful…
We do better when we are being observed.
I’m sure you can remember occasions like this in your past. Your boss, your crush or even a random spectator begins watching you, and suddenly you focus more, try more…basically you try to impress them more! It could be that we want to look good in front of them, or it could be that we just don’t want to fail in front of them. Either way, we try harder and put more effort in.
We are less likely to let someone else down.
I know this is true for me. I can let myself down, or settle for a half arsed job if it’s just for me. But if someone else is relying on me to do a good job, I’m much more likely to try to do well for them. I don’t want my poor performance to spoil their day.
We can get honest feedback.
We can all be our own worst critic or our own biggest fan. It is all too easy to either blame every failure on ourselves or someone else, and credit every success on ourselves or just “luck”. Being accountable means having someone there to question these fallback positions and help see the truth.
We can get a second opinion on things we take for granted.
We see many things in life as just “common sense”. And once we think that, we rarely question them or think there is any other option. But as the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and having a second pair of eyes on the subject can help us see the wood for the trees (wow, there was some mixing of metaphors there!)
It makes us work to a deadline or appointment.
I know for a fact that if I didn’t have deadlines for my university assignments, I would still not have finished them today! By arranging an appointment to meet up and feedback to someone else, it makes us focus and get something done for that scheduled appointment.
We learn from the successes and failures of others.
Hopefully we learn from our own mistakes. But that doesn’t stop us from learning from other peoples mistakes too. If I can get some advice and experience from someone, I’m going to take it on board. It can only make my progress that little bit easier…
Who to be accountable to?
Who we make ourselves accountable to makes a difference. Choose the right person, and the odds of us succeeding shoot up. Pick the wrong one, and our odds can drop. So here are a few things to consider when choosing…
- Make sure you can connect with them regularly. This can range from daily to weekly. But frequency is key.
- Try to find someone with a similar goal to you. Or at least someone who understands how important your goal is to you. They are more likely to keep you on track, as opposed to letting you fall back into bad habits “just this once”.
- Someone with different strengths and weaknesses to you. This way you can compliment each other and help fill in each others weaknesses.
As with many things in life, there is more than one way to be accountable. And there are pros and cons to the different ways. Here are a few things to think about when you decide who you are going to be accountable to…
The “in real life” approach.
This is where you arrange to meet up and keep in touch with someone on a regular basis. This is often either daily or weekly, depending on both your needs and schedules. But it is essentially a “debrief” as to how things are going. We at Eat, Move, Be Happy often use the Eat Better Debrief questions as a basis for these. We discuss what has and hasn’t worked, why that might be the case and plan for the coming week.
Pros of the real life approach include:
- You can build a better rapport with a person we meet in real life.
- The added “effort” required to actually meet them face to face means we are more likely to value the interaction and anything coming from it.
- We are more likely to put extra effort into something when we have to explain our actions face to face.
Cons of the real life approach include:
- Less convenient. We all have busy lives and it can be difficult to sync 2 people’s diaries to meet up regularly.
- Personality clash. If we end up not actually getting on with the person, it can hinder us instead of helping our habit changes.
The virtual approach.
This is becoming more and more common these days, going down the online route. Lets face it, Eat, Move Be Happy is online and we have our own Peer Support group which you should hopefully have already joined (if you haven’t join up now!) So this approach can be:
- Via groups of like minded people. You can announce what you are doing and how it’s going. Others in the group can give feedback, support, advice and generally check up on how things are going.
- One to one virtual chats with a real person. You message/video chat etc with an actual person online. You both tell each other what your goals are, how they are progressing, any stumbling blocks or top tips you find along the way. You both help each other stay on track.
- Via apps. You tell the app on your phone and it will periodically “check up” on you to see if you are still on track and how you are doing.
Pros to the virtual approach include:
- Convenience. They are just a tap of the phone away.
- We can often open up and be more honest while safely behind a screen. We have less to prove.
- Choice. There are so many options out there, if you don’t like the fit of one, you can find a dozen others to try.
Cons of the virtual approach include:
- Most of the pros listed above! Too much choice and convenience can make us put less value and effort into the thing in the first place. I hate to say this, but changing our habits is hard. And if we are always jumping around, trying to find the option with zero effort, we will likely waste our time and never get started.
The key to this is to get the ball rolling. So lets try the easiest things first.
- Join the Eat, Move Be Happy Peer Support group now.
- Introduce yourself with the phrase “Hello, I’m new here and want to say hello!” It’s amazing how easy it is to get a conversation started like that!
- Look around your family, friends and work colleagues to get an idea of who might best fill the criteria of someone you can be accountable to.
- Ask them!! What have you got to lose?
- Agree how you will share your progress. Is it face to face, or online, and of course how often.
- Remember being accountable can work in all aspects of Eat, Move, Be Happy not just with eating better. The whole idea here is moving from being good to GREAT
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