We as humans are stupid. We know something is bad for us, yet we do it anyway. We know something is good for us, but we never want to do it, even if we feel good while we’re doing it. We want to change something about our lives, but we never put forth the effort required to make the change sustainable. Why is this?
There are a few tools that I’ve learned for keeping myself from relapsing into “lazy Stargate/Doctor Who/Psych marathon” mindset. However, out of all of them, I think only two of them have any real psychological effect on me, and so these are the two I’ll be sharing with you. They’re very, very simple, and very easy to dismiss, but they’re also incredibly effective at making you get off your lazy bum and do what you want to do anyway.
“What Gets Measured…”
I’m sure any business student, personal finance student, and middle manager up to C class executives could finish that statement of Mr. Drucker’s that I left hanging up there. The reason is obvious: it’s true, and it’s always immediately obvious whether or not you can see the charts where you are standing. So, what does that have to do with keeping yourself accountable for your goals?
Well, it’s the reason the most powerful tool works. “What gets measured, gets managed”. How do I know if I’ve been productive for the past week? I look at the wall in front of my desk, and I can see the red line that shows how many articles I’ve written each day, how many days I’ve successfully done my “monthly habit”, and the line that shows my minimal acceptable levels of output. As an aside, it looks like I’ve written four articles yesterday, and none for the preceding two days. I keep other, inspirational quotes on my wall, but as long as my red line goes up every work day, I’m doing well. This leads us to my second tool for successful self-change.
It doesn’t have to be like mine, who rewards me for keeping my red line up, and scolds me when there’s a big fat 0 on a day that I’ve deemed one of my five “work days”, but you do need someone to check up on you. You can do the same for them, or pay them a bit if you’ve failed to hit your goal, but you just need someone to answer to. Even if it’s only $1 for every day you don’t get to your goal, that’s a huge motivator for anyone. A partner to look over your “Productivity Graph” or Calendar, or whatever you’re using that’s big and visible, is an important thing to have. This tool by itself will motivate you to be a more “productive” person.
When you use these two tools together, it’s like lighting a fire under your own butt. It’s good for you, and it motivates you to do what you were “planning on getting around to doing” today. Just remember, big, visible measurements of how often you’ve been successful with your goals, and someone to take a dollar from you every time you don’t do well. If you get these two things working together, you’ll definitely begin moving in the right direction much faster than before. You could say you’ll be accountable for your goals.