Your Turn To Hold Me Accountable (My Bets)


in Exercise, Habit Change

One surprising aspect of running a blog partially dedicated to habit change — and creating a product to help people change their behaviors — is that it’s still just as hard for me to change my own behaviors sometimes.

Part of it could be due to what’s described as “expert blindness.”

Essentially, when you’re constantly surrounded by certain concepts, or you talk about them all the time, it’s actually harder to articulate the most basic principles.

This is the same reason that many superstar athletes or brilliant thinkers have trouble teaching their techniques. Once you get to an “advanced” level, sometimes going back to basics in hard.

Imagine Tiger Woods trying to teach a group of elementary school kids how to swing a club for the first time.

“It’s not hard. Just do it!”

Hopefully he wouldn’t be a jerk — but you get the idea. It’s exhausting to focus on little details that you already feel you’ve mastered.


This type of “blindness” is actually quite detrimental to the learning process because without observing the basics, it’s very easy to get off track.

Over the past four weeks, something similar has happened to me.

I don’t consider myself the Tiger Woods of habit change — but I have managed to do some pretty cool things, like losing 23 pounds in 28 days, or creating a system to write 750 words per day consistently.

But recently, I’ve been so focused on building my new company that some of my most basic systems for keeping my habits and behaviors in check have failed.

In particular, the systems that allow me to feel healthy and strong.

I’ve been trying to control my late night eating — and to a certain extent, it’s working well.

But there’s a roadblock in the way: Alcohol

Alcohol creates a predictable chain reaction of drink >> eat >> drink.

Then, when you factor that in over multiple days, the chain looks like: drink >> eat >> drink >> too  tired for the gym

As a result of this cycle, I’ve gained 10 lbs in the last 6 weeks. Not good.

So it’s time to implement a new system consisting of two elements:

  1. Eliminating alcohol
  2. Check in at the gym, 7x/week


Yes, you just read that. 7 days per week.

Now, why would I go from one extreme to another? I don’t really NEED to hit the gym 7x/week, do I?

No. And the reality is, I probably wont. My only goal is to “check in.” If I don’t, I owe $50 to charity. And I’m even holding myself accountable online:

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 5.39.57 PM

“Checking in” means that all I have to do is arrive at the gym, and walk up the stairs. That’s all I have to do.

If I don’t work out, fine. Because “checking in” is my micro-habit.

It’s a very small habit that makes the possibility of me following through with my bigger habit MUCH more likely.

Now, all micro-habits must be preceded by a trigger — something from your everyday life that reminds you to do the habit.

For instance, if you wanted to run more and your micro-habit was to just put on your running shoes in the morning, then your micro-habit could be your alarm ringing. It happens every morning, and it’s a cue that reminds you to put on your running shoes.

In my case, my trigger is walking past my gym. And I’ve made it exceedingly easy on myself by SWITCHING gyms  from one located a block past my work, to one that I have to walk past to and from work.

When I see it, all I have to do it go upstairs and “check in.”

From there, I let the habit take care of itself.

I wanted to share this with you today so that you can get a better idea of what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress.



Daniel Reeves March 27, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Hey Maneesh, I’m a huge fan of monetary commitment devices but I feel that having the money go to a charity makes it too easy to rationalize one’s sloth with “at least it’s for a good cause!” The obvious answer to that is anti-charities but I think that’s a worse problem:


Alex March 26, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Hey maneesh

Entirely get this – have been building a product for the best part of 2 years now and it’s taken a lot of work. I’ve had to keep catching myself – I’ve been through a few periods of not taking care of myself as well as I should during that time. This is where awareness and reflection is so important. Stops you from drifting for too long.

Love the idea of micro-habits that’s new to me – suppose it’s just the cue? Need to work on that myself for a few things.


Timothy Marc March 26, 2014 at 2:04 am

Hey man, love this post.

I think the micro habit is gold in building proactive and action based habits like going to the gym. It seems a bit trickier to apply this to reactive habits like not drinking alcohol but perhaps reframing the goal as drinking a glass of water instead of a beer, which is a proactive thing could help.


Heather March 24, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Thinking about bad micro habits that are hard to break, I read this article about the dominance of South Korea in archery. Basically they treat it as a martial art. For months the kids, all they do is work on posture. Then breathing. Then holding a bow. Then finally shooting. That way the kids don’t have to spend years “unlearning bad habits.” Not exactly what you are referring to, but there are some parallels. Anyways I like the check in idea. My micro habit for exercise is just to “think about one of the benefits I look forward to when I am fit.” just takes a few moments, but it has really helped me get off my butt.


SB March 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

Secondo me, questo è l’unica cosa che ti serve per perdere peso! Questo libro parlo di zucchero e come si fa ingrassare. L’ho trovato interessantissimo.


Michael March 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

I also think it’s great you’re being transparent about your own successes and the challenges of keeping up one habit in the face of a big work challenge.

As a musician, I’m surrounded by people who tend to work long hours and then use alcohol as a crutch to unwind and socialise. It’s quite an easy trap!


Chris Reynolds March 24, 2014 at 8:53 am

I love the idea of micro-habits. This is the first I have heard of them. Do you have any other examples of Micro-Habits? Maybe some around working and productivity with work. Keep on keeping’ on bro


Michael March 24, 2014 at 9:38 am

I also love the idea of micro-habits.
Two real gems here:
One is the idea of linking a specific trigger with a micro-habit.
The other one I love is setting such a small goal. Like just checking in to the gym 7x a week, rather than “working out”. But which will increase the probability of working out.
Smart psychology! And simple to implement!
Like you said, going back to basics is good for everybody in all disciplines…


Johnny Mean March 24, 2014 at 8:52 am

Hi Maneesh, I think it’s great that you are transparent on the overwhelm that happens when you dig deep in one area like business and have to re-calibrate. I like the check in challenge idea as well, easy to implement and monitor. We all cycle our focus and have redefine balance when our results our telling us we are trending in the wrong direction. Key Takeaways: 1)Do an honest assessment, 2)Don’t beat yourself up, 3)Tweak your system. 4)Repeat


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