Over a year ago, I accepted the responsibility of carrying on a weekly tradition for our team at work. It was a simple-yet-powerful tradition: pick something you learned that week, write up a post about it, and share that post every Friday. I have never missed a week since, and after 60+ posts, I’m still shocked that I’ve been able to be so consistent with this practice.
Why is that? More importantly, is there something here that I can harness in other areas of my life?
I get intrinsic motivation from learning about all manner of things. I love to write regularly. I also really enjoy my craft as a Happiness Engineer with WordPress.com. There is no end to the number of things that interest me and that I can write about. This should be easy right?
No. Writing up something new every week that is a) well put together and b) useful to other professionals (who know just as much or more than I) is a lot of work. Sure, about half the time something lands in my lap during the normal course of my work and, boom, I have my topic. But the other half of the time, not so much. It can feel like a real slog sometimes. It would be easy to skip a week here and there and justify it as an exception.
Here is the thing though, I always felt it was my duty to publish those posts because other people were waiting on them. They used that post to also publish their own learnings so if it was missing, it was noticed. I couldn’t take a week off. No way.
The fact that I had social accountability to post weekly made all the difference for me.
Social accountability was the difference between publishing most of my posts on Friday but letting some slip to Sunday. I always hit that day because if I didn’t, someone else would be waiting.
Social accountability was the difference between waiting to write about a topic until I knew everything and just writing what I knew about and getting it out there. Perfection is the enemy of greatness and, in this case, sharing one small thing about how (to the best of my knowledge) something works is of equal or greater impact than an impenetrable and likely out-of-date user guide.
Social accountability was the difference between me accepting and finding a way to work within constraints and resisting the urge to change the rules as I go. There are times to re-negotiate commitments and it isn’t often. No matter what, the thing I was writing had to fit in this weekly window. No. Matter. What.
Although I’ve learned a tremendous amount about technology and tools over the course of this series, the most important thing I might have learned is about me. Social accountability has got to be a part of how I design my commitments here on out.
I am at my best when I know others are counting on me.