The other day I started noticing one peculiar habit I have formed throughout my journey which usually helps me stay accountable to myself when it comes to setting goals and staying disciplined while following through with them. I started doing this some time ago by combining different ideas I've picked up along the way and never gave much though to why it works until recently. I'm wondering if other people have come up with similar or better methods; and if so, I'd love to hear . Either way, I'm eager to share it in hopes other people find it useful in their journey...
We all set goals for ourselves (or at least, I would like to think we all do...).
Some of us want to learn a new skill so that we may find a new job; others want to build lean muscle for a perfect beach body; Or maybe we're up to finding an authentically romantic partner to share the rest of our lives with. Whatever it is, it requires us to have the vision of what we want to accomplish, and a clear understanding of what it will take to get there.
However, having vision and understanding is only half the battle. There needs to be concerted/disciplined action to back our intentions up on a day-to-day basis. And we need to be consistent in acting on our intent. This is the hard part about goal setting.
So how do we ensure we keep ourselves accountable and pushing forward despite the obstacles we'll most surely face during our daily grind?
Many options exist to help us in this endeavor. These include: Joining a community of people with the same goals as you, having an accountability buddy, declaring your goal and setting a timeline publicly, etc... These are all examples of how doing things in a group setting can help us achieve better results.
While I've tried one or two of the aforementioned tactics, one that I've seldomly heard talked about and have also found myself doing unconsciously is that of using money as a tool for adding an additional (rather personal) layer of accountability.
More specifically, I've found that if I'm truly committed to achieving a goal I set for myself, I will reaffirm my commitment by putting some "skin" in the game. In other words, I will back my intentions and commitment with a significant dollar amount being allocated towards achieving said goal; thus creating an emotional attachment with my commitment and making it harder for me to back out of it.
For example, let's say I set out to learn a new skill or concept which will help me develop a new concept for my business.... I've personally noticed that I'm much more likely to follow through with my commitment to learn said skill if I sign up for a paid course on said skill, than if I try to learn it by following free tutorials on YouTube or auditing a class on Coursera.
I believe that the reason for this is that by paying for the course, all of the sudden I have attached some emotional "weight" to my commitment. I'm adding a little bit of "pain" (the money that I'm parting with) for which I will seek to be "rewarded". In this case, the reward is quality effort on my part to actually get the material down, because I want to make my investment worth it.
It's worth saying that this is only an example... it's easy to make the same argument and see how it applies to other areas of life:
- Domain: Health. Goal: Build lean muscle. Application: Sign up for a Crossfit class versus working out at home.
- Domain: Business. Goal: Grow profits by 10X. Application: Hire a business coach versus doing it yourself.
A couple of fun observations I've made by following this approach:
- The bigger the amount of the investment made is, the more intensely I am to apply myself and follow through. I think the same relationship is at play here: The more "sacrifice" I incur, the bigger the "reward" I will expect.
- The effect of making the "investment" in monthly installments (be it signing up for a gym membership, creating a payment plan for a class and so on...) as opposed to an upfront lump sum, is that it ends up serving as a reminder to my future self of the commitment I made to complete a certain goal whenever I made the decision to pursue it and why I made it in the first place.
In a way it's kind of funny, because there's no natural law that says I need to be stimulated in order to do the things that are good for me. However, because I'm human, I will instinctively seek instant and immediate comfort. And while comfort may feel good in the short term, it's almost never good for long term growth. So, putting money on the line towards achieving a long term goal is a good way I've found to stimulate myself to get out of my comfort zone and acting on my commitment whether I feel like it or not.
If you've made it this far in the post, hopefully you have found the content useful and you figure out a way to apply it in your own journey. If and when you do, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section or via direct message.