I’m the first to admit that I’m not a natural-born writer. The words don’t always come easily, and I sometimes don’t know exactly what it is I’m trying to say. So why am I writing this article? It’s primarily because I want to: I do have things to say, and I do want to share them with others. I’ve also decided that writing articles is good for my business because it helps to keep me in front of potential clients and customers.
But because my love of writing is not as strong as I wish it was, I don’t typically jump all over the chance to sit at the keyboard for a half-hour trying to think of what to say. So despite all the great motivations I have for writing this article, there is another reason it’s actually getting done: it’s because I’m accountable to someone besides myself to do it.
I made a commitment to my friend, Mark, that I would write an article once a month for his online newspaper. This has proven to be a win-win situation: Mark gets content for his paper, and I have a structure that helps me to do something I want to do (but doesn’t carry the inherent reward-power to allow me do it on my own).
If left to my own devices I probably would write regularly for a few months, then it might become more sporadic, then it might dwindle down to nothing at all. But because of my commitment to Mark I’m sitting here now writing this article. And I’m glad I am: I’ll get to experience a sense of accomplishment, and I’ll get to continue to share my thoughts with others, as well as continue to keep my name out there.
So I know that accountability is a powerful structure when one wants to get things done. It’s also free and easy, and can help with a host of behaviours.
A friend of mine, to give another example, has had a hard time quitting smoking. He’d tried it many times and always started up again. But when he was truly ready to quit, he shared his intention with his children. He knew, as hard as it would be, that once he had told his kids and got their hopes up he would never light up again. And he didn’t. He was truly ready to quit, but didn’t feel he could quite do it on his own. He was wise enough to leverage the structure of accountability.
What have you been putting off that you know you want or need to do? What self-motivation strategies do you employ? Could you also leverage the structure of accountability? Could you offer to be the one that others could be accountable to?