When thinking about building a habit, we might think it's simple, but it's not easy. The general rule with developing a habit is that it takes about 60 days or repetitions to build it. For habits that you kind of like or that come easy, the whole process can be shorter. On the other hand, if it is tough (e.g., running for me), it can take much longer than 60 days to build a habit out of it. We go through many obstacles and challenges during this time, and we need to be ready to overcome them to reach our initial plan successfully.
What is a habit?
The basic explanation is that habits are little actions that we repeat daily. On many occasions, habits and how successful we are with achieving them are the basis for success and happiness.
There are two types of habits:
Good Habits that bring us forward, e.g., developing a habit of reading, running, morning meditation, daily journaling, etc.
Bad Habits, which we usually want to stop with, e.g., smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy, etc.
And as hard to start and develop good habits, it's equally hard or even more challenging to get rid of the bad ones. Mainly since the little bad habits are part of our lives, they often make us feel good. However, starting with good habits and getting rid of bad ones is the same in the end. We need a certain amount of repetitions and a lot of willpower to do it.
Try to build good habits supporting your vision and goals. Without the right habits, it will be almost impossible to succeed. The will power available per day is very limited; good habits help save it.
How to build habits with the help of an accountability partner?
To get going with developing habits, you need to hold yourself accountable. If that's not enough, you should get yourself an accountability partner to bring the game to the next level and increase the possibility of success.
Having an Accountability Partner or Accountability Buddy means that you give an account to this person. There are different types of accountability partners that you can decide for.
You can select a Coach or Mentor who is already established in this area and way ahead of you in the journey you chose to take. The second option would be to select a Motivator or Enabler who is on the same journey and just a couple of steps before you knowing what you are going through, so they know how to motivate you. And the third option is to go with a Peer or Friend, who is just starting with the same journey as you, is as motivated as you, and can both encourage each other to reach the goal successfully.
Measures to successfully build a habit
Trust and Honesty
No matter what kind of accountability partner you choose, Coach, Motivator, or Peer, the important is that you trust the person and feel comfortable sharing all ups and downs, that you permit this person to hold you accountable for your goals. Going through this process is like being in a real relationship - dishonesty will not bring you far, and in the end, you will realize that everything was just a waste of time.
Clearly define the habit you want to build
Before starting the accountability partnership, you need to clearly define what you want to achieve and plan when doing your repetitions daily. We recommended doing the repetitions simultaneously every day, preferably triggered by some other event. E.g., daily journaling while having your morning coffee or tea.
Positive and Negative motivation
Getting rewarded for success will help us stay on track with the plan. You can set yourself little milestones on the way and treat yourselves every time you reach this milestone. Powerful but sometimes scary is so-called negative motivation. You can have a special agreement with your accountability partner; what is your punishment if you start coming up with excuses for doing the agreed task. Suppose the negative motivation means that you would need to do something uncomfortable, e.g., financially support an organization you would never support. In that case, you can imagine that you will do everything you can to avoid that.
With repetitive tasks, like building a habit, it's essential to have a simple system to note your progress. It should be something that you are familiar to use and something that will help you quickly add a checkmark for accomplished tasks. It can be as simple as ticking it off on your phone calendar or notes. You can also find some apps where you can track your daily achievements.
The whole process can be fragile, and the possibility to quit at any time is always high. However, based on our experiences, we believe that having an accountability person that holds you accountable drastically increases the likelihood of successfully building a habit. A good habit, of course.