As much as you can adopt systems to help point your life and job in the direction you want, systems fail if you don’t use them. And if you’re like me, that promise to work out 3 days a week has a way of taking back seat to dinner invitations, long hours at work, and dessert-eating contests. Good intentions aren’t enough.

The only thing I have found that consistently helps me change behavior is to set up accountability structures that involve other people. As much as I’m sacrifice my promises to myself on an altar of Oreo ice cream cake, I am much better at keeping promises to others.

Right now I am helping a client make daily progress on an important project just by calling daily to hear one to-do item a day. He feels compelled to choose an item that he can tell me, and our talk is the trigger to get him to take the action.

Do-It-Days are another example–they use group accountability every hour to keep you moving on a single productive day.

If you want to change a behavior, develop a skill, or change a habit, enlist someone else–a co-worker, family member, or friend–to be your accountability partner. Share your goals and progress with them, and have established regular contact around your goals. You’ll find that, in the words of the Beatles, you’ll get by with a little help from your friends.

Want to Change a Habit? Enlist People!

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