What is the benefit of setting goals and then posting them online for everyone to see? This is the justification and personal findings of my 40 before 40 list thus far.

Leveraging the StickK Model

So, there is the obvious social accountability. The popular website StickK.com, influenced me to utilize peer pressure and public declarations to keep me on the straight and narrow.

We'll see how well it works for the rest of the year, but it has changed my behavior thus far. 

For one example:

  • Before my 40 Before 40 list:

"Self. Should I go surfing? Ah, well, it is kind of cold and kind of grey. I don't really want to get in the Pacific today. I'm sort of tired. There is a lot of seaweed in the water and it looks blown out by the wind. Maybe tomorrow would be better...."

  • After my 40 Before 40 list:

"Oh, $&%^! It is almost September! You better get you a$$ in that salty water if you are going to hit your 50 times surfing threshold before mid-Jan. 2015. Those waves are not going to ride themselves poser!"

Internal monologue aside, it has been an interesting experiment in time allocation and I've had to reevaluate a few of the goals just to be able to fit them in with my work and travel schedule.

For example, I totally failed at weighing under 200 pounds for six months (in no small part to traveling seven times for work in seven months), so I changed it to 205 pounds by my birthday.

Hopefully a more realistic goal and I'll have less travel for the rest of 2014.

The Benefits of Putting Goals Online

One of the best things I found with this online effort is the overall support from friends and family! People want to help me succeed, which is a nice surprise.

The foremost helper, thus far anyway, was my friend Drew.

After his wife saw my list on Facebook, I received a call and basically we planned out one of my goals in about 30 minutes: visiting the Stone Brewing Company. He flew down from Seattle the next month, booked a hotel room, and off we went to sample good beer.

Needless to say, we drove all over Southern California, especially northern San Diego County where there happen to be 39 different breweries. (They call it the Hops Highway and it generates $273 million a year in economic impact for the region.)

We tried different beers, saw an excellent CA sunset (image below), and got to catch up just before the birth of his son.

The Vulnerability of Putting Goals Online

Creating and posting personal goals online is an inherently vulnerable act. "What if I fail? I might make myself look stupid by posting these for everyone to see! How will this affect my friendships and family?" These are some nagging questions I have and, while they are not stopping me from moving forward, I suspect are very common to the human experience. 

In her Ted Talk (viewed more than 16 million times), Brene Brown discusses her own struggles with vulnerability as well as her academic research on the subject. As she explains in her video:

  • Connection is why were are here as humans; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.
  • In order to have authentic connection with others, we have to fully embrace vulnerability, including the willingness to do something with no guarantees.
  • Vulnerability is having the courage to be imperfect and have compassion to yourself first.

She goes on to say that vulnerability is origin of shame, fear, and the struggle for worthiness. BUT, that vulnerability is also the birthplace of love, creativity, joy, and belonging.

I have a long way to go, but setting up public goals, developing this website, and posting my art online is my first steps toward more vulnerability in my life. It is something to which I'm unaccustomed, but will attempt to embrace fully in the coming months and years.

Friends, family and good craft beer certainly does help though!