Accountability, and what to expect in 2018
Happy New Year!
Ahh, accountability. Just the word motivates me to get sh*t done. Making yourself accountable is one way to push you into action. But it’s what’s left of this productive energy after the initial period that I’ve come to learn is so essential to building good habits. When you work for yourself, self-discipline and accountability is something you need a lot of. As I get older, life gets busier, and so more self-discipline when it comes to self-improvement – both professionally and personally – is required.
One indispensable way of getting more sh*t done is to build good habits. I used to think that just coming to a realization which, up to that moment had eluded me, was enough for me to act on it. And in a lot of cases this is true. When it comes to repeated tasks, however, it can take a long time to get them to bed in, because our brains are hardwired to work to a routine. So it’s only natural that to redress this can be difficult.
One subject that I’ve become passionate about is time management. I do indeed work for myself and so making sure I spend as much of my time doing what gives me the feeling of fulfilling a purpose whilst at the same time not forgetting to live is a day-to-day balancing act. One that, still too often, I fall on the wrong side of. Because I recognise the tasks and actions on which I spend my time, I feel confident that I’m going to have many fewer regrets in the next 10, 20, 50 years than if I had done what was easier and stayed in a comfortable yet unrewarding job. This search for personal fulfillment fuels me and indeed I don’t think that fire will ever go out.
As icky as I feel writing “yolo” here: yolo (you only live once for those in my generation who’ve been living under a rock). We are truly only here on this Earth for an infinitesimal* amount of time and I think I knew this when I left the UK for Australia back in 2014, and it was behind my move to France in 2015.
So, back to the day-to-day. Why am I prattling on about all that above? Well, because 2017 was an ok year for goals and habit building but I felt that I rarely came out of the exciting beginning period of a new goal and kept it up to really cement my actions. And if I say it, I make myself more accountable which motivates me. Yea, you get it by now. One reason for my habit (how ironic) for not sticking to habits is because the lazy bastard in me came out and said “hey look at you go, you’re smashing Spanish, let’s have a week off”. And before I knew it, 9 months had passed. Now, in that time, I got a new business idea, had a lot of fun creative projects that took up my time, and I loved doing them. But, they were used as an excuse not to get back to what I was trying to regularly do before, like say, Spanish or French. So, I’m at the point now, dear reader, where I’ve developed the habit of… thinking about creating habits.
2018 is about sticking to my goals. I’ve been using the words goal and habit up to this point interchangeably. The truth is, to achieve your goals, you need to form good habits. The more specific and measurable (or SMARTer) your goals are the more likely you are to succeed. Habits are formed easier when the actions to take are clear. There are many theories about how long it takes to cement a new habit. 30 days, 90 days, 21 days? For the sake of choosing, which is half the battle (and not choosing is the reason why many of us give up after a couple of weeks), I’m going to be working on a 90 and 30 day basis: I’m setting high level yet specific quarterly (90 day) goals, and breaking them down to monthly objectives so as to make them more tangible.
2018 is about recognising that a new habit is forming, and when the work stops being as fun and exciting as it was at the start, to push throughAlex Barron, right here, 6th January 2018
I’ve written about French quite a lot on this blog so it won’t come as a surprise to you that French is still a huge part of my life. And as I continue to improve simply by living in Montpellier and staying curious, I want to be able to have deeper conversations. So enough time has to be spent on a specific topic, in order to absorb a decent amount of new language.
So without further ado here are some of my goals for the first quarter of 2018:
- By the end of the 2nd week of April I will be able to use at least 50 new terms (verbs, adjectives, and expressions/turns of phrase) to discuss the following three topics in French as well as reduce my reliance on bon and bien:
- The weather
- I can’t wait for the satisfaction of having spent a month on each of these. Usually I get the urge to study another area. NOPE not this time!
- I’m going to start and finish an ebook how to to become an Autoentrepreneur in France for expats between the start of July and end of December.
- By the end of April I’m going to have released the first version of an interactive web app for learners of English. I will spend the rest of the year improving and marketing it.
How’s that for accountability?
It’s very powerful to write down your goals and make them public, as I’ve written here before on the blog.
By not putting strict criteria on ours, they are less scary. We don’t want to fail, and failure is scary. However, by being strict with ourselves we give ourselves more of a chance to succeed. It’s a marathon not a sprint that I’ll spend a long time running. So, in honour of that here are a few things I want to achieve but haven’t had the time to properly plan. They, therefore, stand more chance of failing after an initial productive period. But I mean well :).
- Write on this blog at least once a month.
- Read every night before bed.
- Live in the moment.
- Drink enough water (what is “enough”).
- Get better at reviewing my goals regularly and putting them back on track if needs be.
I’m going to be travelling a lot in the first 6 months of this year and I can’t wait. I’ll be in the UK at the end of February, in Thailand for a month in March, exploring more of France in May, and in the USA later in May. Other places in between I’m sure! A change of scenery often make your habits that are not fully cemented go out the window, so I’m going to plan for this in advance.
Oh, and if I find the time, I want to give this site a makeover and make it a better user experience for all of you.
What do you want to achieve this year, or even this quarter? I’d love to know, and to help you stick to your guns. Tell me in the comments. Writing them down really helps. Trust me. It might help others too. So if you don’t want to do it for you, do it for the imaginary people.
Here’s to you and your goals. I wish you all the best and that you achieve everything you set out to. But if you don’t achieve EVERYTHING, congratulate yourself on what you did achieve, and then vow to improve the next time.
Thanks for reading. Alex.