Encouragement and Accountability

A couple of weeks ago I joined an accountability group in order to focus and speed up progress on a personal project. An accountability group is a small group of people who regularly get together in-person or online to share their goals and encourage each other to complete them. As much as I find my success journal and habit-forming apps helpful, they can’t replace the motivation that comes from telling a group of people you admire that you are going to do something. Peer pressure is a mighty powerful force that can be used for good. If you have an employer then you have colleagues that rely on you, evaluation reports and getting your work done is required to collect a paycheck, but if you are an entrepreneur, freelancer or doing a side project then you’re pretty much on your own. A group of like-minded individuals that share a common desire or interest will help you work through tough problems, cheer you on and keep you focused.

In a short period of time, I’m starting to reap the benefits that I was hoping to gain from joining the group; I’m more focused, I’m able to efficiently decide what is and isn’t important and I quickly knock things off my to-do list. Some of this changed behavior is due to seeing group members make progress and the competitor in me gets revved up, some of it is because I have to report each week on my committed to-do list, and some of it is because members share helpful information and best practices that make it easier for me to get my tasks done.

As much as I love my project, there are times when I catch myself thinking, “this is dumb, why am I doing this? Nobody else cares about this except for me.” In order for me to squash that thinking before it becomes a full-blown narrative, here are some of the remedies I use to remove the doubt and seek out others that share my interest:

  • Write: I publish a monthly newsletter and regularly share stories on social media related to my topic. Because I’ve made it clear about what I’m interested in, friends excitedly share relevant articles with me and make introductions to people in the field. 

  • Meetup: I host and participate in online and in-person groups that are relevant to my interest. Keeping in touch digitally is incredibly convenient but it can’t replace hanging out in person and taking part in activities together. My forest bathing club shares incredible experiences in forests around the world and I would be very hungry if it weren’t for the vegan meetup group that not only eats together at restaurants but helps me translate ingredients on groceries.

  • Read: I am a bookworm by nature and at any given time I’m reading at least 6 books and countless articles. Book review sites like Goodreads are chock-full of people that are interested in the same genres and topics so it’s worth taking the time to write reviews and join communities. There are thousands of groups ranging from postcard exchanges to discussing historical shipbuilding.

  • Join: I became a member of a variety of societies and associations. The good ones have active forums and host conferences. There are opportunities to write topical posts, speak at gatherings and connect with experts in your field of interest. For example, I recently joined the Association for Temperate Agroforestry. Sometimes you’ll find the more specific the interest, the more intimate and helpful the community members are.

I hope that some of these ideas are helpful if you are needing some encouragement to pursue your interests. If you have tips please share in the comments or email us.

By the way, we’re thinking about creating a space for the IDL community to chat about an interest-driven life, the topics we have been covering here and in our newsletter. If you want to join us, please send an email and we’ll add you to the list. Once we have a quorum then we’ll send you an invite.


Tara BrownComment