Accountability & Loopholes
I have recently been making fun of my older sister for listening to NPR and other talk radio, because I love listening to music so much every day (sometimes literally all day) that I just didn’t understand her interest in listening to people talk when faced with the option. I generally don’t like listening to people talk in real life either. I wear my giant headphones for two reasons:
1.) They are Bluetooth and make listening to music while commuting and working out much easier
2.) If someone tries to engage me in conversation at 7am on public transportation I can point to my headphones and smile and shrug and go back to pretending I am asleep
All of this considered, I was intrigued by a post by fellow blogger Julie Fagan, aka pbfingers, where she wrote about enjoying the Happier podcast run by Gretchen Rubin (podcaster and best-selling author). I actually based a blog post on this podcast before, but that was without ever having actually listened to it myself.
Even though I was interested, I tabled the idea in the back of my mind and kept on believing that talk radio/podcasts/talk shows were not for me. This morning, however, as I climbed on to the train to head downtown, I was being drawn to my Podcasts app that has been sitting somewhere in the dusty corners of my iPhone unused for literally my entire life.
I remembered the Happier podcast and settled kind of randomly on Episode 56, which discussed scheduling time to worry about things as well as accountability and the loopholes we invent for ourselves to get out of the things we might be accountable for at the moment.
Obviously when they started naming off the loopholes I was like dammit I do literally all of these all the time every day. Even though I have been guilty of using absolutely all of these excuses there were 3 (out of 10) that I am pretty sure are my most commonly abused. I wanted to write about them here so that I can identify and try to rectify how often I use them, and so that maybe you can catch yourself using them and change some of your bad habits as well!
While all 10 can be found here for your consideration, I would say the top three for me are the:
· “This Doesn’t Count” loophole – in my own words, “It’s the freakin’ weekend.”
Basically every weekend I decide it’s my time to let loose a "little bit" and eat some of the things I might normally avoid, drink alcohol, skip the gym, etc. While I tell myself that the purpose of this is to relax, enjoy, and “it doesn’t count” on the weekend, the truth is that it very much does count and that every weekend adds up to like, half the freaking year! Does feeling sick on Sunday nights because I ate poo all weekend really = enjoying? Not hardly. Whether it’s the weekend, a vacation, a special event, etc. abandoning all of your usual good habits can make it a lot harder to get back on track when the “weekend” (or whatever it may be for you) is over.
· “Fake self-actualization” loophole – aka YOLO!
Do I need this expensive new shirt? No, but YOLO. Should I eat this entire cake? YOLO. The idea that you only live once and should therefore live a little makes sense, but if we do only get one life than why would you want to spend it weak, tired, sick, broke, and frustrated? Because all of those YOLO moments will eventually add up and take a toll, which leads us to numero tres, the all-encompassing:
· “One-coin Loophole” – aka “What difference is one donut?!”
Gretchen described this loophole by telling the “school-story” about the man and the one-coin. If you give a man one coin, is he rich? No. But if you give a man one coin every day, eventually you can say that it was the individual coins that collectively made him rich in the end. The same goes for our habits, good or bad. While it is true that one donut is not going to make you overweight or “ruin” your progress, if you live by the one-donut rule, you will eventually turn around to a trail of empty Dunkin’ Donuts boxes in your wake. One day off from the gym is no big deal. But for so many of us, one day off leads to one week off leads to a month leads to a lifetime. Don’t think about your entire life in one moment. Don’t assume you can never eat a donut again. But know that the accumulation of tiny good decisions and sticking (mostly) to good habits can yield wonderful results. And the same goes for the opposite, of course, so choose wisely.
For me, eating one donut is nearly impossible. I almost always feel the insatiable need to go back for more when it comes to junk food. This is why the one-coin loophole is one that I often get sucked into. Bad decisions have a snowball effect for me. If you are the kind of person who can skip the gym for two days or eat an actual serving size of ice cream without a problem, then these accountability issues probably are not the same for you. But it’s tough to really be honest with yourself and admit that you do get sucked into these habits. Recognizing and labeling them is a great first step in the right direction.
Browse the list of all 10 and let me know what loopholes sound more like you below!