Gretchen Rubin posits in Better Than Before that we tend to fall into one of four tendencies, depending on how we hold ourselves accountable. We are generally accountable internally (Questioners—we’ll only make external commitments if we understand and agree with what is being asked), externally (Obligers—we’ll follow through commitments to others, but not always to ourselves), both (Upholders—we keep our agreements with ourselves and with others), or neither (Rebels—we need to think that what we do is our own idea).
This explained a lot to me. I am mostly an Obliger. I find it hard to keep my commitments to myself. “I’ll only eat one cookie”—then eat four. “I’ll write my blog early”—then find myself, like now, writing it two hours before the time it’s due in the queue. But I AM writing it, because I made a commitment to send it out to the world every Thursday, barring vacation or technical difficulties. That is why I am nearing my hundredth post!
Last fall I discovered that my friend Larry is also an Obliger. And like me, he is single and self-employed, so there is no boss or family member compelling him to act. And, like me, he can get lost on the computer and avoid doing what needs to be done.
So we made an agreement. For six weeks or so we texted each other every week day with our action plan. We didn’t particularly follow up with the other’s commitments nor shame or praise each other—we just reported daily. And it worked. We were both very productive. Recently I heard from him, and his timing was great. I’d hit a trough and my Inner Slug (who is a Rebel: “I’m going to do what I want, and that is to sit around and play solitaire!”) had taken over.
So we’re back to our daily posts, and I’ve already done more today than I have in too long. Feels great! Thanks, Larry! Now, what to do when he leaves for Mexico in 2 weeks…