Why You Need a Goal-friend

I’m working diligently to set out and begin the execution of my plans for the year. In truth this has meant a couple of genuine new year’s resolutions. My favorite new aphorism “keep to your organization, because otherwise you no longer are” is an effort to curb my bad habit of switching organizational and note taking tools. I’ve even made a fitness resolution in the form of several fitness goals. And taken time for making two kinds of maps of my goals, and one visual-enhanced list to hang on the wall so I will see them everyday. However the Most important thing I’ve done is get myself a goal-friend.

I was talking to an old friend who was feeling a little lost just at the time I was feeling a frustrated if well directed, and it occurred to me that we could help each other out. We were talking about life-coaching and other unspecific “consultants.” It seems from the outside like a situation where you pay someone to nag you about your goals. And I thought “Well, I can do that!” Now I don’t claim to be qualified or even well versed in methods for defining what will make anyone else happier or more fulfilled, but I can definitely provide the social pressure that is sometimes required to follow through on private goals. And that is all too often the difference between success and failure. When someone else depends on my work, I am far more inclined to get it done in a timely manner.

So out of that conversation with my wandering friend, we defined goal-friending. A simple concept and system for reporting goals and projects and then maintaining regular check-ins to keep each other honest. First we both plotted out maps of our goals for the year, and shared them. Now we have begun writing daily emails listing simply what we have done in pursuit of those goals during each day. The expectation that at the end of the day someone will see what I have accomplished or at least attempted, begun, or planned is greatly curbing my tendency to avoid accomplishing things, and giving into my resistance.

Lots of people who work in a vacuum as freelancers, or hoping to change fields, or striking out on their own with a new business will benefit from this dynamic. But for the many people who work in offices and other work-groups, this kind of feedback and socially-engineered motivation is built in. Often though, its personal projects that require the biggest infusion of energy to get started. So I suggest you give this a try. Tap someone else who is making a change or learning something new in their spare time, and everyday, or a few days per week, shoot an email off stating what you’ve done to further your goals. Then once a week or once a month make time for a phone call or meeting to get more in depth. I think that the phone call/ video chat/ coffee date/ working lunch provides the deepest motivation. Often it is in vain attempts at time-shifting that we cross from great intention into insidious procrastination. These face-to-face moments cannot be time-shifted like emails or journals and provide much greater need for accountability.

In the last two weeks I’ve done as much meaningful research, learning, planning of my upcoming endeavors as I did all last year… that may not be accurate. But with my goals freshly mapped and clearly prioritized I’m able make more effective use of my time. And now that I have a goal-friend on the other end of my status reports… I’m actually doing it.