Chatting with a friend the other day, I learned that he was on a quest to lose weight and had been for some time. He’d been slowly modifying his lifestyle, diet and exercise, and was making some progress but was a little frustrated by what seemed like a bit of plateau in previously steady progress.
I complimented him on his weight loss to date, and asked after the details of his diet. “It’s not a diet, he’d said, it’s a project.” Spoken like a true techie.
He’s managing it through modifying his food intake against his calorie burn, and exercising more regularly.
Most importantly, he said, he’s telling people about it. It keeps him accountable. In fact, the key to his success thus far was making sure that people knew about his quest because it meant that he really couldn’t fail. He was trusting in the need to protect his ego and his ever loving friends to keep him in check.
The best piece of advice he’d received, he said, was to plaster your intentions across the front page of the Times, and shine the spotlight on your goals. With that many eyes on your waistline, or anything else you chose to make public, you really couldn’t afford the embarrassment of failure.
As blogging’s explosion across the internet has demonstrated in the last several years, people naturally gravitate to sharing and discussing their lives, hopes and aspirations in more public spaces, albeit, not necessarily with the intent of holding themselves up for ridicule. Many people are simply looking for validation or feedback, or keeping a public journal, in some way.
Whatever the motivation, this propensity to make once-private aspirations more public has given rise to companies like SmartyPig where users can also choose to share their savings goals with their family and friends, both incentivizing the savings behavior and the social aspect.
Research indicates that there are benefits to actually committing goals to paper, as it were, that the act of writing it down is a form of reinforcing the desire to achieve.
The additional public sharing of those goals gives you access to a supportive community around something that only you cared about before.
There’s a lot of truth in this and readers will see that in the personal finance blogging community. That’s why there is so much emphasis on the setting of concrete goals, S.M.A.R.T. goals. Socially and intellectually, blogging about money gives bloggers and non-blogging readers a forum to discuss the world of finance, learn about money, and talk about how other people are finding ways to solve similar problems. Built into that support network is knowledge sharing – both things that would help in the achievement of those goals.
Even though the same topics typically revolve around the ‘sphere, the voices of experience range across life stages and resonate uniquely across writers and readers to present a vibrant patchwork of resources.
And there are certainly ways to set goals in equally supportive communities offline as well, through mentorships, professional associations, friends of a similar mindset. Like my friend, relying on the good old fashioned peer pressure, redirected to work for him.