If You're Serious About Changing a Behavior - Do This!

I guess just about anybody knows that if you really want to change a behavior, or follow through on a commitment, a great way to do it is to get yourself an accountability partner. Over the years, I have done this myself with friends to achieve some personal goal like regular exercise, because even if I don't feel like showing up, I have to if I know YOU'LL be there.

Those of us who are married have a built-in "accountability buddy" in our spouses, but I only recommend this when you are really serious about changing or affirming some behavior. But when you ARE serious, who better than the person who lives with you to "keep you honest." And the rules are very simple. Each party authorizes the other to "call them" on the forbidden behavior, or remind them about the neglected desired behavior. The "offending party" must cheerfully and immediately comply. Simple enough, right?

For the unmarried, close friends are great at this, as are other family members. Children, young or grown, consider this to be great fun, especially the unilateral authorizations, which are only binding to one party (i.e. Mom or Dad)

While we both acknowledge that this is potentially dangerous marital ground, Melanie, the "Platinum wife," and I have a few of these going right now, and thus far they've all been pretty successful in achieving their goal.

The most successful, in terms of longevity, has been the "Seat Belt Accord of 1999." This was a mutual pact that either of us can just ask the other if our seat belts are fastened, and the other party must immediately and cheerfully buckle up. This one was born out of our mutual frustration that neither of us buckled up consistently, and I have to say that it has greatly improved this good habit.

Another one, which is what made me think of this topic in the first place, is the "No Public Health Complaint Rule," which grew out of that incident with our friends as described a few days ago in my article, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." This one is much more binding on me than Melanie, although she has yet to have to call me on it. As a former manager of an elderly housing complex, I learned never to bring up a personal health issue, or ask, "How are you feeling," unless I had at least a half hour to spend listening to a litany of ailments ... But I digress ... what was the topic again? Oh yes. Melanie and I basically agreed on this to ward off the tendency which increases with age to want to discuss one's aches and pains. So I guess it's preventive more than anything else.

Another "preventive" that comes to mind is the "Old Person's Noise Prevention Act of 2006 which prohibits any and all grunting when getting up from or settling into a sitting position, or when bending down to pick something up off the floor. I'm not proud of it, but I had to call this one on myself just today.

We also employ one that is a direct copy from one of our daughters and son-in-law. He has an acknowledged difficulty with his sense of direction, and has agreed that our daughter may remind him of upcoming turns, exits, etc. In my case, it's not a poor sense of direction but chronic absent-mindedness that causes me to occasionally drive right on by.

So if you really want to change that behavior, this is the key. Use it wisely, grasshopper. :-) Bob


Pete said…
Rob: A good sense of direction is really over-rated. Do you really want to know where your headed every time you buckle up,...what's the fun? Platinum folks should toss out their Garmins and TomToms and embrace the exhileration of never knowing if you'll get there on time!

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