Finding Accountability Online: My Journey To Feeling Accomplished
Motivation is the reason we want to do something; accountability is the mechanism by which we make it happen.
Last June, my dad began his cheer campaign to get me to write on Medium. It began with: “Do you know Medium?” it progressed to him sending me articles, and finally, it was: “You should write on Medium.”
His idea wasn’t out of the blue; I’m a journalist, and writing is something I enjoy but used to do only when work-related. At the end of the month, I went for it and published my first piece. I felt so accomplished. I had done it! I published. I was on the path to success!
One month later I published my second piece and that’s how far it went. I couldn’t find motivation or discipline, I had no idea what to write about, and no one was reading my (two) pieces. I felt like I had failed.
Today, I have a website, I write every weekday, and I am publishing more and more. What changed? I am part of a community that keeps me accountable. This is the actual path to success.
The Passage To Long-Term Commitments
Finding motivation by ourselves is hard. And sometimes, even after we find it, it isn’t enough. The goal of writing regularly, and the path to get there, choosing topics, doing research, and writing every day, is hard to pull off. The truth is, I didn’t believe in my willpower, so I depended upon an external force to push me to my goal.
I needed to build a habit and sustain it, which may sound simple but is hard to do. Then, I found a secret to getting, being, and staying motivated: Accountability! “One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior”, says James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. That’s exactly what I did.
It was also my dad who introduced me to David Perell’s writing course, Write of Passage. He sent me the link to Perell’s website and mentioned he had a writing course. I followed his work for a couple of months and ended up taking Write of Passage, expecting to build a website and write five pieces during the course.
What I got from it was much more. The impact of being part of a writing community and the accountability that comes with it is a game-changer.
Once the course ended, I lost my sense of urgency and momentum. I had no publishing deadlines anymore. To avoid the inconvenience that working alone entails, I committed to participating from Monday to Friday in what we call “Writing Gym”; an hour where connected by video call, each of us writes on our own.
Even when I don’t feel like writing, I join the call. It turns out, lack of motivation is the symptom, and accountability is the cure. In the past, I tried habit trackers and keeping streaks, but it always came to a point where I failed myself. Most of the time that led me to resentment, which prevented me from trying again. Now, if I don’t make a call, I make sure I attend the next one.
Today I can say I am part of a winning team. By that, I don’t mean that I work with these people on the same projects, but that we all contribute to an environment of concentration, motivation, and feedback. These are key elements, as they allow us all to progress and reach goals.
Being on the same path as others, finding similar struggles, and sharing advice on solutions is very comforting. I’m sure finding that comfort will lead me far. It turns out it’s true when people say motivation is the reason we want to do something; accountability is the mechanism by which we make it happen.
Get Yourself Accountable
We make better choices when we are being watched; if you want to hold yourself accountable and can’t find an accountability group or partner, there are websites and apps you can join to find people who will keep you accountable.
Supporti: This mobile app pairs people together for daily, mutual support.
Get Motivated Buddies: This website lets you plan for your desired behavior, search for like-minded people, join a group and be part and/or create challenges to reach your goal.
Focusmate: This is the most similar to the Writing Gym I mentioned before. With Focusmate you decide when to work, then you join a video session with another member at the desired time and work quietly in tandem with him/her.