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Nothing will motivate you to achieve your goals like making other people aware of the specifics of what you’re aiming to accomplish. At least for me, the threat of public shame is a great tool you can use to prevent yourself from giving up on your […]

goalNothing will motivate you to achieve your goals like making other people aware of the specifics of what you’re aiming to accomplish. At least for me, the threat of public shame is a great tool you can use to prevent yourself from giving up on your dreams. Making others aware of your plans also has the added benefit of potentially providing you with great feedback about how you might best go about carrying through with them, too. The web is a great place to publicize your professional goals, especially if that’s where you do the bulk of your work. But just tweeting your aim doesn’t mean it’ll come through. As with most things, a plan will help increase your chances of success.

Step 1: Alert the People You Trust

If you’re worried about the feasibility of your goals, bouncing them off of your closest friends and relatives is a sure way of getting some invaluable early feedback. You probably have some good friends who aren’t afraid to make you look foolish (and, in fact, might relish the opportunity), so you don’t have to worry that they’ll pull punches to spare your feelings. Conversely, if you have a good idea, they won’t summarily cut you down, like some of your more trollish online contacts might.

Your inner circle of real-life peers and confidants will also have a better idea of what you’re realistically capable of. In fact, they might be more aware of your own limitations than you yourself are. Most Internet connections, as familiar with your work as they might be, will likely judge based on the apparent difficulty of the goal in a general sense, without specific reflection on your level of talent, dedication or ability.

Step 2: Keep Your Twitter/Facebook Friends in the Loop

Once your plan has passed muster with those you trust, you can broaden the audience using Twitter and Facebook status updates. Don’t make a huge deal out of it, but do post things like “Starting work on my ABC certification today, wish me luck!” At the very least you should secure some words of encouragement.

Most likely, depending on the size and nature of your networks, there will be others among your friends and contacts who’ve tried to achieve the same or similar goals. They’ll be able to offer advice, helpful links, and possibly even prep materials or information sources, depending on what it is you want to accomplish.

Mining your social networks for support is great, but be prepared for challenges, too. Anything from doubt concerning the merits of your chosen goals, to flamebait and personal attacks is possible, but the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, particularly if you’re thick-skinned. Hopefully, you’ve already applied the golden rule of the Internet: Never take anything personally, unless it makes you look good.

Step 3: Broadcast Beyond Your Network

While making the people you know and interact with on a regular basis aware of what you intend to do is the best way to get yourself to stick to your guns, it might not be the most effective method of garnering feedback.

Reaching out to strangers might give you a fresh perspective on what you’re doing, and how to go about doing it. It may also help when your goals are off the beaten track, and therefore less likely to be shared by other individuals in your social circles. To some degree, Twitter will broadcast your plans out to the ether if people are searching for keywords that occur in your tweets, but other alternatives are much more targeted.

MySomeday is a new web app in public beta that is designed specifically to help you share your goals with others in a community setting that will help you garner constructive criticism and words of encouragement. The concept is simple: You post a plan, and other members of the community comment on what you want to do and how you want to do it. You set up steps towards achieving your goal, and then you rate each step in terms of importance and check them off as they’re accomplished. Checking off tasks updates your progress bar, which displays the completion percentage of your overall goal.

Picture 17Step 4: Stick to It

Just talking about your goals is a sure way to not accomplish what you want to do. Action is the only real solution, but sometimes the key to spurring yourself to act rests outside of yourself. Regardless of whether you draw your inspiration from yourself or others, though, the only way to achieve your goals is to persevere in your pursuit of them. Especially for web workers, using the Internet to garner encouragement might just be the extra push you need to keep your nose to the grindstone.

Does sharing your goals with your network spur you into action?

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  1. I so agree with this principle, I’m working on achieving 101 things in 1001 days and the only way this project would ever work for me is with public accountability and interaction. :)

  2. Matthew Pennell Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Nothing will motivate you to achieve your goals like making other people aware of the specifics of what you’re aiming to accomplish.

    Are you sure about that? Because according to this report, quite the opposite is true:

    “Researchers report that when dealing with identity goals — that is, the aspirations that define who we are — sharing our intentions doesn’t necessarily motivate achievement. On the contrary, a series of experiments shows that when others take notice of our plans, performance is compromised because we gain “a premature sense of completeness” about the goal.”

  3. @Matthew Pennell – I agree to an extent. It’s too easy feeling that you’re “doing something” by making plans, when you haven’t actually moved any closer to the goal. Nevertheless, I think for some people (myself included), a sense of accountability does mean that they are more likely to follow though with certain types of goals. For example, I had been thinking about my recent trip to Amsterdam and Brussels for a while, but it was only after I had discussed it with others that I went ahead and booked the tickets.

  4. @ Matthew, that point is only true if you tell people about dreams. Speaking for myself, I don’t tell my friends/network about dreams. I tell them about plans. Completely different approach and very different results as a consequence. Simon’s anecdote is a perfect example – telling people about going on a trip moved it from a dream to a plan.

    @ Simon, hope you enjoyed your trip and working on whatever goals you’ve currently got in the mix. :)

  5. Great site.

    If you are looking for a goal tracking app that is more productivity oriented, and has more project management features, check out our site at http://www.goalsontrack.com.

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  8. I enjoyed simply browsing through some of the plans… a lot of great inspiration fodder… and also some great ideas. That last part makes me wonder if it would be unwise to put some ideas out there for all to see. In a competitive marketplace, probably not a good idea to tell everyone exactly what I am going to do and how I am going to do it. But for personal goals, why not?

  9. Not sure if this would work for everyone. For me personally, I would keep my goals to myself until I achieved them then let people know.

    For example when I failed my driving test I felt bad but only my family knew that I was taking the test. It would have been much worse if I had to update my online presence answering the same quetions again and again.

    I suppose it depends on your personality and your friends as to how much you share online.

    I have been using an application called Motivate Me which I developed. It periodically shows random motivational messages in the corner of your screen. More info can be found at CodeSingh.com

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  14. I’m loving mySomeday.com. I’m using it to track and plan a few of the bigger goals in my life. The plan building tool is really getting me to think about each step. I highly recommend for people that actually want to get stuff done.

  15. @Alison Thanks for the plug!

    That’s the entire principle behind zeaLOG. Set your goal, make it public and tell people. Works for us and it has been awesome to watch our users kick butt on their own goals, especially when they collaborate on shared stuff. :)

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  18. Elle, thanks for giving mySomeday a try. Our goal was to launch a site that gives people a complete set of tools to actually achieve all of those goals and dreams they want to get to ‘Someday’.

    In the very short time that we’ve been up and running we are seeing quite a few people using the site to visualize, plan and actually achieve their Somedays. We’re very excited about these early success stories and we look forward to continuing to enhance the features/functions on the site to make people’s goals/dreams a reality.

  19. I think this method works quite nicely. I tend to use it rather often (since I run a blog). I’ve found it will at times push you to get things done, I’d love to know how non-bloggers fair.

    Also, I’ve linked to you in my link finding Friday (click my name) :)

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  27. I agree with all you’ve said. However, sticking to it isn’t a matter of willpower, it’s self belief – an emotional issue which can be learned or regained. Life coaching can be a great help!

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