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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 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.
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?