Accountability

Last Friday I wrote an article titled Floodlight or Laser. I wrote about the need for focus and accountability while pursuing your goals. I also began to start explaining what the Cubicle Warrior website project was all about and promised more to come. Specifically, I said that I would list my goals and where I am in relation to those goals.

I’ll get to my specific goals and progress in a minute. First let’s review a little and get some definitions out of the way.

Starting Monday I’ll list my goals, my current state, and my intentions. I will describe how these seemingly unrelated goals actually do interconnect. I’ll review the most recent actions I’ve taken on each as well as create a list of proposed actions I expect to follow in the next week.

In the Floodlight or Laser post I assigned you, my reader, the homework of trying to get your arms around your own goals and similarly assess that situation. Don’t worry, it’s OK if you didn’t. You can take a moment now to catch up and write them down now or just mentally review them while reading the rest of this article.

My Definition of Accountability

Accountability: the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable.

That was Dictionary.com’s definition of accountability. In the context of Cubicle Warrior I’d like to turn the noun accountability into the proper noun Accountability by infusing the term with a few distinct elements.

  1. A list of goals
  2. with specific criteria
  3. to be completed in a set amount of time
  4. that you’ve told everyone you know about.

Why be Accountable?

You may already be an accomplished and driven person. You may have already achieved every beautifiul, noble, and self-fulfilling thing you’ve ever wanted and indeed have the secret to happiness and success. The reality is that most people are not, have not, and will not. Most people have a few haphazard goals rolling around in their heads which they shepherd for years but never nurture or implement, no matter how beautiful or great the intention. And from that lack of action everyone misses out. The authors of these private goals die slow, ignominious deaths along with their ideas and the world at large is that much poorer for never having seen something that could have made a change or a difference.

The reasons for not achieving these lifelong goals can be as varied as self delusion to laziness to fear of success. I’m not going to try to guess here why most people don’t reach their goals. I can tell you that every one of my personal successes began with a clear, defined goal with specific criteria that had to be completed in a set period of time. And I am certain that that last bit about telling that goal to everyone I know held me more accountable to it than I could have ever held myself.

Experts might call this public announcement of some variation of social proof. All I know is that I don’t like to renege on my goals. Perhaps it is the thought of not living up to everyone’s expectations (the ones you just set yourself by telling them) but this kind of public accountability makes making those 1000 tiny choices you make every day that much easier. I know that telling everyone I was going to do a bodybuilding show while in college was the only way I was going to stick to a diet over holidays and through the multitude of parties. I know that telling my family that I was going to get a Master of Science degree while holding down a demanding full time job was the only thing keeping me in classrooms, libraries and labs 20+ hours a week after working 40 to 80. And I can definitely say that the huge amount of people that knew I had planned on entering the 5.25 mile Cross Bay swim was the only thing that kept me training over a 20 month period of time to do it.

I also know that when you show commitment to a goal, your friends will help you achieve it. The more audacious the goal, the more everyone – friends, family, like-minded strangers included – will help you succeed.

Achieving your goals is not easy. It’s like that saying, ‘if it was easy, everybody would do it/have it/be it.’ If you’ve found something that’s worth doing, stand up, shout it out, tell everyone you know and get to it. You’ll find help from places you never expected. You’ll find strengths that you never knew you had. Find that goal and the universe will conspire to help you achieve it. But you have to show the universe you mean business first.

My Goals (and their reasons)

Here’s where I am second guessing myself. This article is already creeping up on 1000 words and I haven’t mentioned my goals or their state. As I mentioned in Floodlight or Laser, I have many, many goals. To fully explore them would take a long time. I am also coming pretty close to my self-imposed deadline of having this post ready for Monday night. I have to meet that goal. I have to keep my promise to review the goals. I have to keep a promise to myself to post content to the best of my ability and doing that will take more time than I have right now.

Sounds like another opportunity to use this principle of Accountability. Tonight I will list some of my active goals that I am willing to commit to finishing and give an explanation of how they fit into a greater whole. However, as part of my first goal, I will write a much larger manifesto piece with greater detail, depth and range. I will be accountable for crafting that document, designing the layout, putting it into a PDF or other download-able, printable format for easy reading and advertising it wildly. I will create another post detailing why I am writing it and what I expect to accomplish later on this space.

Cubicle Warrior Website Goal

Goal: My first goal is to make this site useful, public and interactive.
Reason: We can accomplish more being accountable together than we can apart. (And because talking to myself is not so much fun.)
Recent Efforts

  • Writing longer, more conversational posts with general themes to explain the broader scope of the project and explain the rationale behind Cubicle Warrior.
  • Create a larger manifesto uniting the Cubicle Warrior themes.
  • Built a release plan to take the site public. The manifesto and longer posts are an integral part of this so please continue to give your feedback!

Due this Week
All of these tasks come straight off of my release plan. If you’re interested in hearing more about that, let me know in the comments section below.

  1. Continue writing these longer, pillar posts on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday schedule.
  2. Make significant progress on larger manifesto.
  3. Review & clean up past articles so I don’t end up “Dooced.”
  4. Finish the Cross Bay Swim article series. Yes, there’s more!
  5. Add social media buttons so you can share articles on Facebook, Digg, Stumble On if you feel so inclined.

Website Design Business Goal

Goal: I own a website design business that I work in my off-cubicle hours in order to supplement my income. My goal is to build that business to be a larger contributer to my overall income.
Reason: As in investing, I believe in a diversifying my income sources. You never know when one sector will perform poorly. Also, I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from working on those projects si it’s a lot of fun. Being a business owner is on my ‘Bucket List.’
Recent Efforts

  • Prospect Interaction. The last week I spoke with 3 prospects who needed various kinds of websites and elicited requirements to that end.
  • Came to an agreed budget for one website design that should be a lot of fun to work on and provide a lot of work for the future.
  • Created a re-release plan for that business and website, too.
  • Reconnected with many past clients to gather referrals for my business.
  • Fixed a major email issue for one client.

Due this Week

  1. Sign a deal with one prospect making them a client.
  2. Keep in contact with other prospects.
  3. Set up a meeting to discuss future work with client with now resolved email issue. Amazing how fixing things makes people want to work with you more!

Travel Goal

Goal: Travel to Germany, Austria, Mexico, Brazil, Maine, and Blacksburg (Xs 2) in the next 5 months.
Reason: My favorite pasttime is exploring new places and I travel frequently to that end. This is my proverbial ‘bucket list.’
Recent Efforts

  • Purchased flights, hotels, and tickets for all of the destinations listed above.
  • Finalized itinerary for 2 weeks in Germany.
  • Coordinated 2 major trips to Blacksburg this fall.
  • Reconnected with many past clients to gather referrals for my business.

Due this Week

  1. Post itineraries of the upcoming travel plans occuring this month.
  2. Organize my work on each of the other goals so that they can be worked on by others while I’m travelling

Fitness Goal

Goal: To be in shape enough to thoroughly enjoy my upcoming vacations.
Reason: One of the points mentioned in the “7 secrets” book that I really agree with is the tenet “begin with the end in mind.” No matter what your dream goal plans are (retire early, change jobs, travel the world), there’s a great chance that when you visualize yourself doing those goals, you are not sporting a huge beer gut or sweating profusely from simple exertion. There’s nothing more debilitating than having to change your plans because of physical limitations (other than perhaps self-imposed mental limitations based on your physical fitness.) I’d also like to be in good shape for all of the photos I’ll be in!

Recent Efforts

  • Adapting to life after swimming. A return to the gym and a promise of at least 30 minutes daily of fitness activity.
  • Cleaned up my diet. No major swings, just a concious effort to eat well and spend calories on budget like I do my finances.
  • Started coupling my fitness activities with my friends. Working out at lunch with DevilDog is more fun and challenging than going by myself. Rafting with the group, swimming with friends, hiking, and kayaking are all great social activities that lead to greater fitness.

Due this Week

  1. Continue at least 30 minutes of fitness everyday.
  2. Make the 1000 tiny choices on food and exercise that will get me where I want to go.

Homework

What outrageous goals have you been keeping to yourself? Have you ever announced a crazy goal to the world and found serendipitous help? Tell the world now below! Or, tell your friends and ask that they keep you on the straight and narrow.

Comments

  1. In the Marine Corps, we have a saying of policing your own. Basically watch each others back and make sure we are doing the right thing. When i do not have my friends to kick me in the @ss, i visualize them reminding me to stay on course no matter what. What do you do without goals? I can not imagine anyone being worth while in life without having something to aim for. Whether it be a degree, a competition, a certain distance swim, or moving to a foreign country.

  2. avatar Cubicle Warrior says:

    Some cartoons show a character with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. I have a rotation of friends on mine whispering in my ears at all times!

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