3 Easy Steps that got my family to work out every day for 2 months

2 months ago, I came up with this system to get my family to work out every day. Spoiler alert: it worked. No one skipped even one day of work out.

Step 1: Decide on daily workout goals

Cater sets of workout plans for each individual. What works for me might not work out for my brothers. In the chart below, each row represents a “set”. Each person needs to choose and complete at least one set of tasks from their workout plans each day.

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Our workout sets

Step 2: Agree on the penalty for not completing the workout for the day

This can be whatever your group agrees on. It can be doing the dishes for dinner, fining $10, or treating the group for a meal. This is called the “opportunity cost” in economic terms. The key is that the cost should make an impact. If people in your group don’t mind a $10 fine, then make it $20. On the other hand, you also don’t need to make the cost too great and make people feel distraught if they happen to not complete the task.

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Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Step 3: Keep track of it every day!

Now comes the fun part! Remember to keep track of it every day! This system will remove the dependency on personal motivations. Personal motivations are great, but they are also not as reliable. Switching from depending on motivation to following a system removes the decision part of the equation. Even when I’m tired from a full day’s work, or when I’m feeling slightly sick, I don’t ponder about whether I should work out today or not.

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Systems are more reliable than personal motivations.

According to Atomic Habits by James Clear, a system decreases the friction to a new habit. What other habits do you think are suitable to apply this system to as well?

Written by

software engineer (web full-stack) + Machine Learning grad student at UT Austin. I write about studying tips, productivity, and minimalism.

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