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.
Ensure that there is a variety of workout sets to choose from. For those who get bored from doing the same workout every day, add in a couple of choices that you can choose from. If you are interested in a balanced workout, consider adding separate daily sets for each body group or workout type.
Be ambitious, but also keep blue days in mind. There are going to be days when you will get overwhelmed with work or get sick. We want to make sure that the system stays running even on blue days.
The workout plans should be minimums. You can always work more than the requirement, but the extra amount doesn’t roll over to the next day.
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.
The penalty should be effective immediately. People are inclined to disregard costs that happen in the future. $10 today costs more than $10 a week after.
Our system keeps the fines in a pool that goes towards our next family night out. This makes the penalty both effective and fun at the same time.
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.
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?