How do we motivate ourselves to achieve our important, but not necessarily highly urgent, goals and objectives? Writer Laura Vanderkam has a neat article at Fortune.com about how to use personal accountability systems to keep us on track when it might otherwise be easy to procrastinate. Vanderkam explains:
"So what do successful people do? They create external motivations for
things they want to do but that life has a way of crowding out. They
create accountability systems that boost important but not urgent items
to the top of their priority lists -- ideally in a way that makes
failure really uncomfortable. Effective people know that we succeed when
success seems like the easiest choice."
Vanderkam actually tried this technique herself while working on her novel. She tapped someone as her "writing buddy." She set out to write 2,000 words per week, and Vanderkam checked in with her writing buddy each Friday to see how things were going. Soon enough, she was writing more than 2,000 words per week, and then she actually finished her rough draft. The buddy system worked.
Why does this type of personal accountability system work? Vanderkam argues that we don't like to appear lazy before others. Therefore, we are motivated to reach the goals that we have set out, and that we know our partner(s) will hold us accountable for achieving.