Something that has been popping up in my mind lately in terms of sticking to goals and following through is accountability. Accountability is just a fancy word for being honest with yourself and just fucking doing whatever you need to do in order to get to your desired outcome.
Just the other day, I picked up a copy of Cal Newport’s book “How to Become a Straight-A Student“. To get a taste for what his writing is like outside of his blog, and of course in preparation of a Corporate Tax course I’m taking to finish off my Accounting degree.
Only 5 pages in, I was hooked as it read very “lifehackerish” with tips, tricks, systems and mindsets of “Straight-A” students from Ivy League schools across the US. One of the major themes in his book is Accountability and the discipline to hunker down to get stuff done in a methodical and relentless fashion to clear the way for other things in college life, like socializing, partying and of course – beer.
Obviously, I’m not preparing for college life all over again, however I find the time management and scheduling system that he details so simple that it felt too good to be true. It really felt like a lightweight GTD system. Without going into the details, there’s a lot to be said when one simply focuses on the task at hand to follow through AND NOTHING ELSE.
He also described a “mind hack” that’s so deceptively simple that I just had to test out myself. Whenever you don’t follow through on a task that you scheduled in and attached a deadline to for a particular day, you have to jot it down on a “progress journal” (it could just be a simple pad or binder of paper) that details the date you didn’t get something done and why you didn’t do it. The purpose is to get to your ego and challenge your commitment and consistency when you promise to finish one thing, but when you see a string of tasks that weren’t done, the psychological pressure will haunt you to eventually follow through. That’s just for one portion of accountability – yourself. However, there’s even more Accountability that can be “leveraged” from others when you make public commitments, have friends who are watching your back and keeping you in check. These constant feedback loops and reminders to yourself ultimately keep you from falling off the tracks.
In a world of GTD, fancy calendars, productivity apps, there’s nothing like a bit of self-imposed or outside psychological influence factors that keep you to your word.