Goal Accountability and Visibility

This is Part 6 of Goal Setting Mastery.

I’ve read a fair amount of advice where people say to keep your goals to yourself and not to tell other people what you are intending. This is because once you’ve told enough people it can give you a premature sense of completeness. You’ve already made yourself a champion by adopting some of the habits and the feelings of how you would feel when you’ve actually reached the goal.  The resulting social recognition can make you less likely to carry on with your goals.

You’ve probably seen this a hundred times. Friend who over-eats posts to Facebook that they’re going to do it this time (the “it” could be lose weight or get fit), this time is definitely when they are going to do it. And then nothing happens.

Far be it from me to poo-poo anyone else’s advice but I personally recommend the absolute opposite. In fact I want you to totally adopt the behaviors and feelings of a successful person. Right now. I want every single person to do that right now. I think everyone should announce their goals (within reason of course, don’t tell your boss your career plans) and take total visible responsibility for themselves. Open yourself up to mockery and failure and dare everyone to point out when you fail.

And then don’t fail.

You’ll probably know by now that I don’t advocate taking the easy way out of anything. If you didn’t know that, I’ll tell you why. Taking the easy way teaches you very little, adversity promotes learning, long lasting learning.

If we’re talking weight loss, I’ve got numerous friends who overeat and are overweight and they constantly seek out the easy fix and guess what? Any weight they lose through fad dieting they put back on in short order. I’ve known other people who commit to a lifelong change of lifestyle and while it takes a lot longer to lose weight and takes much more willpower, the weight loss tends to stay off. It’s a change of mindset and habits rather than just a short-term diversion.

Being accountable for your goals and committing to a purpose is the same. It’s changing who you are to accommodate your soon to be new lifestyle/persona/ability, the mindset of which I want to cover in the next section of Goal Setting Mastery.

Opening your mouth and telling people what you want to achieve has some major plus points. First of all the assistance of others can be invaluable. Imagine if you wanted to give up smoking but kept it quiet. All your smoking buddies would be constantly asking you to go outside for a cigarette, they’d be applying peer pressure and then there’s the disbelief that occurs when people don’t want others to succeed. If you’ve ever stopped something you used to do with certain people, whether it be smoking or drinking or overeating or whatever, you’ll know what I mean.

“Hey, Rand, you wanna get a beer?”
“No thanks, I’ve stopped drinking so much.”
“What? Don’t be ridiculous, c’mon, man.”
“Honestly, I’ve got too much to do to be wasting my time drinking.”
“No way, that won’t last very long.”

If you have friends and family like this, and I’d warn you about expecting to much support from people when you start a self-development journey, then you have no choice but to completely ignore them when they start talking like that. Then, when the dust has settled a bit, as people feel slighted when you try something different without them, tell them what you plan to do and ask for their help, making it very clear that you are deadly serious. They can either go on the journey with you or without you, but they’re absolutely not to sabotage you.

Now, you can’t control what other people do. You can request support, but please build the expectation that they might well not support you in the way you want. At the very least though, they’ll stop encouraging you to go back on your decision.

The second reason you should definitely shout about your goals is that it will keep you honest. Of course, this will only work if you actually want to be honest and why wouldn’t you be. If you cheat on your goals and fake achieving them, you’re fooling yourself only and that sounds like the most outrageous insanity.

If your goal is to become a role model of health and people with whom you’ve discussed this notice you pigging out on fried chicken and pizza, they’re going to know that you’re not perfect and while none of us are perfect, it’s certainly a noble aim. You’ll be letting them down. One of my goals involves what I’m going to do for my children, the sorts of things I’ll be providing for them. If I decide that instead of working and hustling and pushing myself, I’m going to play video games all day, someone who knows my goals is going to pay attention. My mother, or the kid’s mother, will notice and ask me about it. While I’m not one for guilt, I don’t want either of those people to feel let down by me and I certainly don’t want my children to ever think I’m not doing everything in my power to give them what I’ve promised. I could justify that it’s ok for a day or two and then I’ll get back on the goal train, but that isn’t what I want for myself. One slip leads to two and then it’s a slippery slope.

The third reason that you should share your goals is because your goals will be grand and they will be exciting. Inspiring. You want people to think, “If Joe can do that, I can.” You want people to think, “Joe is amazing, look what he’s doing. My respect levels for Joe have gone through the roof.”

The respect and admiration from other people can be a motivator, it certainly is for me. Although I don’t need it, I’ll achieve for myself at the very least, validation from people I care about is wonderful.

In recap, if you announce your goals, and manage that process wisely, you’ll be able to:

1. Get help from those around you
2. Raise your accountability stakes
3. Inspire yourself and others

My final reason which isn’t for everyone is that it’s boastful, which is great, I love boasting. You are filling yourself with importance, announcing to the world that you are amazing and you intend to become more amazing. Many people might tell you to be modest and humble, but modesty and humility aren’t for people who must succeed, those are traits for people who are scared to succeed.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

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