Utilizing Public Accountability for Success

The hardest part about blogging for me has always been choosing the topic. So, instead of actually choosing a topic myself, I turned to my friends on Facebook to help me decide what I should write about. Suggested topics to address ranged from the resistance to legalization from some medical marijuana communities, to issues of privacy, the political path that I have been walking over the past few years (apparently some people want me to run for office someday…I’ll save that for another time), to the values of volunteerism.

Instead of giving myself the freedom to choose from the list what topic I would write on, I decided to choose the topic with the most likes at the end of the day. Ironically enough, the most “liked” topic was not really a topic at all, but rather a challenge from my new friend Ben, whom I just recently met over the winter break.

His challenge was fairly simple. Write about something you don’t already have a strong opinion on. Below is Ben’s comment in full. I thought it was worth posting in it’s entirety again here.

So I’ve been thinking about this and I have a suggestion. The topic itself could be adjusted but it’s exciting to me in terms of the idea behind how you choose it.

Most people write on topics they’re passionate about, not because they understand them better or have more information on them but because they’re passionate about them. It leads to incredible biases and you basically have a group of people reading who already know by sentence one they agree with you and are just looking for a few sentences to take from your blog to use in an argument over dinner with their family member who has an opposing view (run ons for days).

I’d challenge you to write about something that you don’t have a strong opinion on yet. Look at the facts on Snowden and see if you would praise him or consider him a traitor. Obama drone strikes. Single serve coffee machines (terrible for the environment). The fact that our youth are taking stronger political stances verbally, but forming them based off of opinions they hear. IE so and so was a bad president; rather than the things they accomplished or did.

Just a thought. Maybe this is a high school essay all over again but I think it sounds more interesting than hearing you pitch something like marijuana where I know your stance before the article begins.

At first I asked myself, “something I don’t already have an opinion on? Is that even possible?” I’ve always felt passionate about the topics in previous blogs and that holds true for most of my in-depth conversations, personal and one-on-one conversations with others. Typically if I didn’t already have an opinion, I was quick to conjure one up within minutes.

Then I dove into the question a bit deeper, and this is where the premise of my initial post became clear.

The reason I was asking for ideas from my friends on Facebook as to what I should write about was because I felt to need to hold myself publicly accountable for starting and finishing the blog. Over the past 24 hours I’ve had multiple people who didn’t necessarily leave a comment online, but informed me in person that they were excited to see what I came up with, adding more pressure and creating a greater need to fulfill my promise to my friends inside and outside of the Facebook world.

This positive encouragement is exactly what I needed to accomplish my goal, and the only reason I recieved it, was because I asked for it.

What I have noticed was that the way in which I have gone about “pulling the trigger” on writing a blog had created a system that was built to challenge myself with the support of close friends and family. After coming to this realization, I stepped back and became curious as to how other people challenge themselves to achieve their goals.

Sharing the mechanisms, structures, and tactics that allow us to accomplish things when we would otherwise make up excuses not to do them has become fascinating to me. Although I have been studying what some call “lifestyle design” strategies on how to become more effective in succeeding and surpassing the goals I have set for myself for a few years now (thanks, Tim Ferriss!), I know I have a lot to learn.

Which begs the following questions:

How do you set yourself up to succeed? Is it a positive attitude? Is it challenging yourself in a public space for all to see? Is it collaborating with others? Do you set a deadline and simply force yourself to stick to it?

Please let me know how YOU do it!

I want to thank all my friends who allowed me to gain the courage to start blogging again. I hope this blog will inspire you to share your thoughts on achieving the goals we set for ourselves and each other.

Seriously Samuel

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