Accountability

Ok! You’re all set to change your habits or learn something new, but it requires consistent practice. You need dedication and pure raw willpower, right? Yeah, but even better is accountability.

There are a lot of ways to make yourself accountable that you’ll usually read about right around New Years, when people make resolutions and break them a week later. These include telling your friends or family, giving them money and only getting it back when you’ve accomplished something, or starting up a blog (ok – a little bit meta, but it is a good idea).

These are suggestions predicated on the assumption that you have friends or family you’d feel comfortable sharing your goals with, or that you want to publicly share your progress (even if no one ever reads it, which is highly likely).

But what if you’re introverted? Then, you want to keep yourself accountable… to yourself. After all, as an introvert I’ve found that I’m my own best confidante. If you’re introverted, or just circumspect about publicly sharing your self-improvement goals, you may want to check out a site called 750 words. The idea is simple: write 750 words per day, every day. You receive a little badge on the site for various achievements: 3 days consecutively, 10 days, 50 days, etc. The interface itself is very clean: just an empty white input form that tracks how many words you’ve written, and your history so far for the month. It saves your words and does some cute analytics at the end to see if you were ‘happy’ or ‘sad,’ if your update was ‘PG,’ ‘PG-13’ or ‘R’, etc.

Of course, you don’t need a website, you could also track this in word and keep a calendar that shows your consecutive days with updates. But it’s a useful interface.

I’ve found I’m dramatically more likely to keep my resolutions, keep practicing, etc, when I also write the journal. Because you find it’s difficult to write 750 words every single day. Inevitably you gravitate to what’s on your mind, what you did or should have done during the day, and so forth.

It drains you to write “I spent over my budget today” or “I didn’t practice guitar today, like I should have” – you *dread* getting to that point and admitting defeat. So you get your stuff done before you update.

Daily words are a useful tool that can help ‘lock in’ other behavioral changes. Experiment: maybe a daily journal with a few lines is enough for you, or 500 words, or maybe you’re ambitious and want to write 1000.

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