We mentioned Tim Ferriss there briefly, and he is definitely someone that we should listen to when it comes to goal setting and accomplishing.
Tim Ferriss is an author of The Four Hour Workweek, which shows readers how to design the lifestyle they want so that they’re only working four hours a week! One way they do this is by setting goals and achieving them and one of the strategies that Tim recommends to that end, is to create accountability and stakes.
The way this works is simple: you give yourself a goal that you can pass or fail on a daily basis, weekly or monthly basis and then you tell someone about it. For example, you might tell a friend that you intend to visit one other country at least every month.
It’s very easy to not follow through with a goal like that though, and so you’re going to make yourself accountable. How? By giving that friend the job of checking in on you – and of being able to punish you if you don’t do it.
Tim Ferriss recommends the ultimate punishment. They are to donate a large amount of money to a charity in your name. The kicker? You get them to donate your money to a charity that you don’t agree with! That way, you don’t even get the positive benefit of feeling you’ve done good. This way, you have lost money, you’ve damaged your good name and you’ve done a bad thing for the world.
Pretty brutal but by creating stakes like this, you’re once again bringing the motivation for your action to the forefront, which is going to put your brain in that more focused, driven and ambitious state. You are telling your body that this is very important and you’re going to experience ‘eustress’ (positive stress) . As a result to motivate yourself into achieving that goal!
By helping others... We help ourselves
Should You Share Your Goals?
This is great advice and it can help a great deal, but it does go against another piece of research which shows us that it can actually be destructive for us to share our goals.
When we share our goals, we tell people that we’re going to stop smoking, that we’re going to become rich by saving our cash or that we’re going to move to another country.
This is a great moment as they will no doubt celebrate our decision and be excited for us. For a moment it feels as though it has already happened – you’ve committed to it by saying it out loud and now it’s a part of who you are!
But this is the problem. Because by doing that, you’ve released some of the psychological drive to get out there and do it. You’ve already stated your intention, already made it a part of your personality and already had some of the adulation.
You now actually have less motivation.
Worse is that some people might tell you it can’t be done, or might talk you out of your goals. It’s a dangerous business to reveal your dreams like this.
So for this reason, you should share your goals only with a couple of select people and only the people who can help to create that accountability and those repercussions.
Embrace the Fear
But you know what? There are actually already stakes for failing to accomplish any goal.
The stake is that you end up living the life you live right now… forever. With zero improvement or progress.
That might not sound like a terrible deal but the fact of the matter is that this is actually the most frightening prospect of all – because it’s very realistic.
If you don’t take a chance by looking for new jobs, by travelling now while you’re young, by getting into shape, by changing the way you feel about yourself…
…then you’re going to carry on doing the precise 9-5pm every single day. You’ll feel no sense of accomplishment, of reward, or of adventure. You’ll lie on your death bed and you’ll look back and feel as though you actually wasted a large portion of your life.
You never lived your dreams.
You’re never too old to be what you’ve always wanted to be. If you take the strategy we’ve discussed here, then there are always ways you can live your dreams right now. Even if that means paying for your place on Virgin Galactic, or if it means playing ‘old lady 7’ in TV programs. But that said, the older you get, the less time you’ll have to enjoy your achievements and the less energy and vitality you’ll have to enjoy it with.
So don’t delay. You can’t afford to delay. Remember this and you’ll hopefully feel that sense of urgency and focus too.
Creating a Movement
Finally, know that you can often accomplish your goals better with the help of others. This is one more reason to tell people about your dreams.
The obvious and easy example of this is finding a training partner. If you want to get into better shape, then finding a workout buddy will make it that much easier to stick to that goal because they’ll give you encouragement and motivation in the gym. You’ll want to train even harder than you normally would impress them and you won’t want to skip sessions because that would mean letting them down.
The same goes for dieting or any number of other goals. Note as well that if you can get your partner on board with you, then you’ll have even more luck still.
But another example is that you can start an actual movement, or a group. If you want to start a band, or a start-up business, then you’ll automatically need that to involve more people and that will mean finding other people who are as passionate and excited as you.
Otherwise, you might start a movement or a group about any other thing. What about a weight loss group? Or what about a political movement?
How about starting a well-dressed club? Or finding other entrepreneurs to work on your projects with.
When you create a movement and everyone is equally as passionate and as driven, it becomes self-sustaining and contagious and that can help you to grow and to achieve more incredible things than you ever could on your own…