Half Giddy, Half Terrified: Goal Setting with Teeth

For years (seriously for years) I’ve been fascinated by the questions “what would help people to do what’s already in their best interest.” It’s one of the reasons I wanted to become a coach.

Using myself as an example, when it comes to setting goals and knowing what to do to get to goals, I’m pretty darn good. I’ve done all the Franklin Covey courses, project management voodoo, etc. There’s a certain poetry in a well-done project plan.

And yet, none of that means much when I don’t do the actions on my to-do list, right. I mean, literally, I have specific items on my to do list that I have been putting off every single day for years.

There have been some interesting studies done on the conditions required to keep commitments. In some ways there’s a lot working against human beings when it comes to working towards long-term goals: lack of support, lack of immediate feedback, being unable to gauge your progress, etc, etc.

So I was very excited to learn about Beeminder, a service which helps you set and make progress towards your goals and offers a special incentive when you don’t do what you promised you’d do: you have to pay money. As they put it, “Goal setting with teeth.”

Dang, that’s smart.

The reason I also suddenly feel terrified is because suddenly, it’s really in my face: I set a lot of goals. A LOT of goals which is probably why I blow so many off. As I contemplated setting a goal using Beeminder, it occurred to me that whatever I worked on, it better be something I really want to have. Like all the sudden there’s skin in the game and I can’t dink around doing a little here and a little there.

I also found myself feeling embarrassed because although I like to think of myself as a committed, no bs kind of person, I’m clearly pretty indulgent in a lot of ways when it comes to meeting my goals.

So the prospect of using Beeminder feels like a “in your face” kind of challenge. But because I like these kinds of challenges and I’m really curious to find out if Beeminder will help me make real progress on an important goal that I’ve been a little reluctant to dig into, I really want to give it a whirl.

And I’m only going to choose one goal. I’m not that crazy.

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