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Becoming a Better Programmer by Pete Goodliffe

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Chapter 35. It’s the Thought That Accounts

Thinking well is wise; planning well, wiser; doing well, wisest and best of all.

Persian Proverb

I run. Every week. It’s my waistline, you see. Perhaps it’s guilt, but I feel I need to do something to keep it under control. 

Now, let’s be clear: I’m no masochist. Exercise is not my favourite thing in the world. Far from it. It ranks marginally above hot pokers being stuck in my eyes. There are plenty of things I’d rather do with my evenings. Many of them involve sitting down, preferably with a glass of wine. 

But I know that I should run. It’s good for me.

Is that fact alone enough to ensure I go regularly, every week, for the full distance? With no slacking or slowing of the pace?

It is not. 

I dislike exercise and would gladly employ the weakest of excuses to get out of a run. “Oh no, my running shorts have a loose thread.” “Oh no, I have a runny nose.” “Oh no, I’m a bit tired.” “Oh no, my leg has fallen off.”

(Ok, some excuses are better than others.)

What unseen force coaxes me to continue running regularly when guilt alone can’t drag me out the door? What magical power leads me on where willpower fails?

Accountability. 

I run with a friend. That person knows when I’m slacking, and encourages me out of the house even when I don’t fancy it. That person turns up at the door, as arranged, before my lethargy sets in. I perform the same service back. I’ve lost count of the times that I wouldn’t have run, or would have given up halfway around had ...

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