My favorite life hack: Forced Accountability

44,292 words. That’s the length of the first draft of my third book. I started writing it on January 6th, and I finished it this past Thursday, February 4th. 

Early each morning, usually around 6 or 6:30 a.m., I sat down to write. My goal was to write between 1,000 and 2,000 words each session. Some mornings I would struggle to get there, and some mornings it was a breeze. (Writing 2,000 words usually takes me an hour and a half.)

During that 30-day period, I missed two days. One day I had a massive headache (I also decided to give up caffeinated coffee at the start of this process; smart decision I know) and the other day I had meetings starting at 7 a.m. and I just never got myself into the mode of writing. 

So, how did I get this done in such a short amount of time, with everything else going on?

Forced Accountability

I’ve found that when I’m doing something that doesn’t have to be done, meaning there is no deadline imposed on the task by someone or something else, that it helps me to create forced accountability

Much of what I do these days falls into this category. Writing this email newsletter would count. No one is checking on me to make sure I send it out. Similarly, launching The A Pledge, producing my podcast, and writing my books are in the same boat. 

For you, an example might be exercising. In most cases, you can skip your workout today and you’ll be the only one that was counting on that happening. The disappointment is all yours.

When I find myself in those situations, I create forced accountability. Usually, for me, the best way to do this is by involving another person. For example, I’ve never been more consistent with exercise than when I knew my running partner would be outside at 5:45 a.m. waiting on me, sometimes in 30-degree weather (when it would have been extremely easy to skip).

In fact, I sometimes use public commitments via my writing as a way to keep myself accountable, which you can read about in this post where Adam Albrecht and I debate the merits of such a strategy. 

Side note: You should consider subscribing to Adam’s email. I don’t recommend that lightly, because adding to our email inbox is not an easy commitment, but his posts always bring me joy and motivate me. And, they’re hilarious.

44,292 words in 30 days

To write this book, I actually created two components of forced accountability. First, I committed to my editing team the date I would have the first draft done. But more importantly, I have a good friend that is also writing her book, and each day we committed to texting each other about our progress. We both strived to write every day, and that accountability motivated me to push forward, even on those mornings when I just didn’t feel it.

When I look back at things I wanted to accomplish but didn’t, I almost always find there was no accountability attached to completing the task. And so I’ve learned that if I really want to accomplish something that’s important to me, creating forced accountability is the best way to ensure that I reach my goal.

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