Chapter 17 and Accountability Partners

I did a poor job of eating enough yesterday, and ate lunch too late, which postponed dinner, and neither meal was terribly big. As a result I lost 1.2 pounds and am down to 121 pounds this morning. I made myself eat breakfast, and also have had lunch, and have planned a sizable dinner to make sure I eat enough calories today. I still am avoiding added sugar, so hooray for that part of the challenge!

Onto the book:

Chapter 17 is all about increasing the pain attached to a bad habit to make it unlikely to repeat. The more immediate and great the pain is, the greater effort you would take to avoid the habit in the future. Credit card companies want you to stop paying your bill late, so they institute late fees. Another way to institute immediate reaction to your habits is to have an accountability partner, and having a habit contract with an appropriate cost of breaking a habit.

Chapter 17 summary:


  • The inversion of the 4th Law of Behavior Change is make it unsatisfying.
  • We are less likely to repeat a bad habit if it is painful or unsatisfying.
  • An accountability partner can create an immediate cost to inaction. We care deeply about what others think of us, and we go not want others to have a lesser opinion of us.
  • A habit contract can be used to add a social cost to any behavior. It makes the costs of violating your promises public and painful.
  • Knowing that someone else is watching you can be a powerful motivator.


I have several accountability partners, but I don't have any habit contracts. I just keep several of my friends and family apprised of my habits and challenges, and I feel enough guilt by disappointing them that I don't feel the need to attach any painful financial or social burdens on myself. My friends' disappointing looks is enough to keep me in line. I expect a few such looks when they read this and find out I didn't eat enough yesterday. At least I recognize it and already have a plan so I don't do it again today.

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