Why You Never Do the Things you Want (and how to fix it) by John Miller
Last year I blogged about new month resolutions. The concepts are valuable—setting short term goals, not waiting until a “season” is over before you start improving yourself—but in practice the plan fell short. I broke up long term goals of learning French, playing the guitar into weekly actionable items of practicing X amount of times or playing DuoLingo for X amount.
The concept was solid.
I still didn’t do it.
Unfortunately for humankind it takes more than a good idea to make a change. Some of the world’s greatest achievements probably materialized because ideas never became actions. Conversely, I can think of several times in my life when I did achieve significant personal growth. My ideas became realities and made a difference in me.
When I was a college senior I proposed to my girlfriend of 4 years. Once engaged I knew I needed to drop some of my hard earned “freshman 50” (not a typo). That semester I kicked forty pounds because my friend Kyle met with me every Tuesday and Thursday morning to ride stationary bikes and play basketball. Now, I completely changed my diet and worked out 4-5 days a week during that semester, but I checked my weight once a week, on Tuesdays, right after riding bikes. Would I have lost the weight without those regular meet ups? I wouldn’t bet on it.
More recently, I’ve written that I’m a bibliophile. I love books: buying them, reading them, smelling them, decorating with them. I have only read 1/3 of my books, though. Over the past few years I have read more books than ever before simply by surrounding myself with other readers. I made a church intern read ministry books with me, and we’d review a chapter a week. My church staff reads one leadership book each month. My buddy Nick and I grab lunch every other Wednesday and discuss a chapter or two in a theologically dense book (we’re trying to learn to live like Jesus!).
You can probably see what I’m getting at here. Before Kyle I wanted to lose weight but couldn’t motivate myself to achieve it. Before Nick, my interns and staff, I read occasionally but didn’t make a dent in my overgrown library.
The self-made man is a myth.
Most of us need accountability to grow. Accountability is inviting others to strengthen you.
No man is an island: we need other people around us with a shared goal. Philippians 4:12 reads, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” You cannot achieve greatness by yourself. Accountability is powerful!
Oftentimes people don’t hire financial planners and personal trainers because they think they’re not necessary. But the truth is, If you could hit your goals alone wouldn’t you have done it by now? We’re not thriving on our own. We need other people to hold us accountable. While you might not need to hire someone, you certainly do need to find someone who can help you grow by holding you accountable.
Would I be a better linguist and musician if last year I had partnered up with someone to learn the skill? I’d put money on that.