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On Creating Public Accountability

There's no doubt that goals are important.  They give us focus and purpose as we move through life, and give us something to strive for.

But just as important is having a reason to complete those goals.  Without a big enough "why," our goals are useless to us.  There's no reason to get them done if we don't have a really good and powerful reason to want them to get done.  And the reason can be "good" or "bad."

One of the reasons I want to develop some residual income, for example, is so that I can help get my family some freedom to do things like travel.  Both my parents and my wife's live in the western US, now (Arizona and Washington) and we'd love to be able to get out and visit them.  I love to travel anyway, as does my wife, so this is a big goal for me.  A big "why."

Another goal I have is to get into outstanding shape.  And there's not any other reason for that than I want to look good and feel healthy.  Honestly, that's a harder "why" to get attached to - especially when there's ice cream involved (one of my weaknesses) or I want to get some extra sleep after being awakened by one of our kids in the middle of the night (which happens probably twice a week at least).

So it's at times like this that I like to give myself another big "why" and create some accountability for myself.  And the way I'm doing that is by using social media and all of my friends.

I'm currently using two iPod Touch apps for my workouts:  One Hundred Pushups and Two Hundred Squats.  They present two workout regimens designed to help you attain the ability to do 100 consecutive pushups and 200 consecutive squats (they're not just clever names, folks).  And the apps give you the regimens for each workout, rest timers, logs, the whole nine yards.

And the other thing they give you is the ability to automatically post your workout results to Twitter and Facebook.  So all my friends know exactly what I've taken on with this.  In other words... I'm opening myself up to peer pressure.

And this is a good thing.  It's forced me to take some accountability for my fitness by letting everyone know my goal and how I'm doing with it.  Public accountability is a fun and effective way to complete a goal.

Now, not every goal is well served by public accountability.  There are some goals that are more personal, and should be kept under wraps.  Steve Martin had a character in a movie that refused to talk about his goals to other people, with the standpoint of "I don't like talking about my goals... it sort of takes the place of achieving them."  If people congratulate you just for taking a goal on, then you may feel too much satisfaction just from that.

And with this standpoint, you have to know what kind of person you are.  Do you thrive from peer-pressure related goals?  Or do they make you expend energy that might otherwise be better used actually achieving the goal at hand?

Only you can know the answer to these questions.  And in such a case, be honest with yourself.  If you aren't getting results from a goal by keeping it to yourself, maybe a little publicity isn't the worst idea.

But don't be afraid to let people know what you're working on, goal-wise.  Good friends will encourage and perhaps even give you a bit of an ass-kicking when you need it.  And the "pressure" you put on yourself to look good in these cases can be just the impetus you need to put in that effort to get your goals done.


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