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Sep 11, 2008

The Second Law Of Action: Everyday Accountability Gives You Ten Times The Results

Welcome back to the Secret-bustin’ series that treats the Law of Attraction like one big ol’ magic genie pinata. Catch up on all the posts here.

The age-old First Law of Action (coined just a few weeks ago) states that A refined outcome is easier to achieve. Simple enough to agree with – you get specific on what you want (and what you don’t want), and the path you need to take to get there becomes clearer.   Nice and simple.  You don’t have to be a quantum physicist to figure that one out. :-)

Now, let’s take a look at the Second Law of Action, handed down through the centuries penned as I sipped my evening rum & Coke:  Everyday Accountability Gives You Ten Times The Results. Again, not rocket science … but seldom put into practice.

When You Decide To Act Everyday, Everything Changes

The reason why we don’t get what we want has less to do with how talented we are and a whole lot more to do with how consistent we are with action. Whether you’re building a blog, developing a new habit, or punching your way out of a living grave (thanks, Sonia), taking focused, non-stop action on a daily basis speeds up your results tenfold.

The reasons for this are many:

  • When you hold yourself to taking action on something everyday, your whole psychology undergoes a shift.  You’re essentially telling yourself “I’m serious about this,” and you devote more of your focus to making yourself work.
  • When you decide to take daily action on a project, you pretty much have to sit down and make a plan of what to do next, and next, and next, and next … and instead of taking random action, you tend to make more of a strategic plan.  No futzing around anymore.
  • When you tackle the same goal day after day, you start to become more sensitive to understanding the results you’re getting.  You get better at discerning what type of actions have a bigger payoff than others, and when your current strategy isn’t working.
  • When you make taking action a daily habit, you quickly develop a sense of dissatisfaction for taking any action that doesn’t give you really good results.  You stop fooling around and start getting serious.
  • When you take action more frequently, you refine your strategy faster.  As you get into the thick of a project, you start seeing ways that you could reach your goals more effectively because you’re immersed in it and you’re seeing results you can measure.

For all these reasons – and many more, which I’m sure you’ll talk about in the comments – holding yourself accountable to take action everyday on a goal moves you from a leisurely stroll to a marathoner’s pace (and sometimes to a hard sprint).  In fact, it’s clinically proven* that getting serious helps you make progress ten times faster.

(* According to a study where imaginary researchers come up with nice round numbers to support my points).

How To Tap Into The Power Of Everyday Accountability

If there’s something you say you’re serious about that you just aren’t making progress on, it’s time to make the shift to everyday accountability.  The process is simple:

  • Refine your goal into a measurable outcome, such as “10% increase in traffic,” “100 new subscribers,” or “15 hours of studying copywriting per month.”
  • Schedule time in every day to take action, because if you don’t schedule it, you won’t do it.  If you’ve got a daily schedule that varies, just schedule 1 or 2 days ahead at all times and you’ll be fine.
  • Every day, ask yourself the Big Question, “What did I do to make progress on this goal?”  This accountability question alone will speed up the process more than anything else, because it forces you to evaluate how much progress you’re making.  You can’t be complacent when facing this question.

Don’t Let Time Pass Without Taking Action

New Year’s Resolutions fail because you check in on them once a year.  Most “30 day goals” fail because people don’t check in on them until a few weeks have passed.  If you check in on yourself daily, and you get honest with your answer to the Big Question, you’ll be amazed at just how quickly you make things happen.

Everyday accountability –> Everyday Progress –> WIN.

3 Things You Can Do Now To Make This Message Stick

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22 Responses to “The Second Law Of Action: Everyday Accountability Gives You Ten Times The Results”

  • Sep 11, 2008 James Chartrand - Men with Pens

    I’ll add a tip – make yourself accountable to someone else. When you tell someone else that you’ll do something on a specific day, you tend to work harder at accomplishing it. It’s very easy to lie to ourselves: “I’m going to do this tomorrow. Promise.” And then we don’t do it.

    When you tell someone else, you have the guilt factor going on. People hate making excuses more than anything. Tap into that and make it happen.

    Then again, guilt at not accomplishing something can be a killer… hm.

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..Simplicity for Writers of All Types

  • Sep 11, 2008 Kelly

    Dave,

    Punch punch punch punch punch.

    Yep.

    I love your laws of action. Everyday accountability has always worked like a charm for me. And if I fall off the everyday wagon, ooh, do I slide. I hate those times. The only way back is to start chunking out the mini-goals and checking them off again. Taking concrete, measurable steps everyday makes me feel powerful. Thanks for the reminder!

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Inspiration Points: Bill Gates on Bad Experience

  • Sep 11, 2008 Sonia Simone

    Thanks for the living-grave link, Dave! :)

    About a week ago, I made a 100-day commitment to take action on a series of business goals. I want to start 2009 in a much more powerful position than I’m in right now.

    I’ve got tasks defined every day for about 40 days, and every few weeks I’ll extend that task list out. For some days, I also have an optional task or two defined, and I’ve included some catch up days if I don’t make as much progress on a given task as I’d hoped.

    Every day I have to answer one question for myself: did I meet my commitments for the day or not? As you suggest, I have my tasks for each day scheduled–for me, it makes sense to schedule them about two weeks out, so I can work around other schedule factors that I need to work with. And I have no problem reworking the schedule if opportunities come up that are in line with those original business goals.

    James has a good point, every day I log in to my mastermind group & let them know what the task was and whether or not I did it. I’m going to feel like an ass if I miss a day.

    So far it’s been really fun and very empowering. I’ve never made this ambitious a commitment–usually I do 30-day jags. So it will be interesting to see how more of a marathon feels. I do try to adjust the tasks so they’re realistic–there are days when the task is simply “brainstorm new post and product ideas.” Other days I have 2+ hours of work as the daily task.

    Sonia Simone’s last blog post..A Favor to Ask of You

  • Sep 11, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @James –
    Accountability to others is huge. One thing to add to that is if you’re accountable to people who are “higher up” than you are, you have a stronger pull.

    @Kelly –
    Punch punch punch punch punch.

    Glad to help :-)

    @Sonia –
    You’ve inspired me – I think I’ll chart out a 100-day plan myself next week.

    I know you’ll kick ass, as you are the punchinatrix :-)

  • Sep 11, 2008 Elliot Ross

    Accountability *to* oneself can be difficult enough.

    Accountability *for* oneself can be another.

    But have you ever been the organizational lone wolf howling in the wilderness?

    Seen senior people making vague suggestions or requests to individuals that you know will never follow through.

    Because those senior people cannot be accountable, or hold others accountable.

    Sigh.

    Apologies for the rant on such a well turned post.

    Elliot Ross’s last blog post..ITIL & The SMB Part 5 Change Managment

  • Sep 11, 2008 Michelle

    All right, I’m commenting! :-) Thanks for the great motivational post.

    This kind of reminds me of a story I read a few weeks ago, linked from a CopyBlogger post (I think Sonia Simone was the author, IIRC):

    http://lifehacker.com/software/motivation/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret-281626.php

    Don’t break the chain! ;-)

    Michelle’s last blog post..Summer 2008 Movie Reviews: Part 2

  • Sep 11, 2008 Brett Legree

    Holy cow, you kicked my @$$ so hard with this one, it took me all day to get back here to comment…

    Accountability to others – yes, very powerful – and I second Michelle, I use a don’t break the chain dry erase board for writing and exercise…

    And so often my wife walks by it and says, “I see you’re writing a lot, but your exercise is taking back seat…”

    *gulp*

    :)

    -Brett

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..things i learned from sharkboy and lavagirl.

  • Sep 12, 2008 Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome

    On my writers’ forum (http://www.fmwriters.com) there’s a thread for daily goals. I use that for my accountability to others. I use http://www.RememberTheMilk.com to remind me each day of what I’m supposed to be doing and then I’ve started documenting it in an Excel spreadsheet so that I can see what I think I’m going to be focusing on and what I actually do focus on.

    I’m doing the latter because I’m good at futzing about on some things, and this way I only document real progress.

    I love this series and think you have a really strong information product building from this!

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..Our Lives Are Full of Stuff – Full Text Answers

  • Sep 12, 2008 Jean Gogolin

    Kick-ass, inspiring post. Got to go buy a white board and find wall room for it.

    Question: A marathoner runs more slowly than a sprinter but at a carefully measured pace, saving energy for the hills and the toughest part at the end. Do you think the metaphor extends that far?

    Jean Gogolin’s last blog post..We Shared the Impact of That Day

  • Sep 12, 2008 Stephen Hopson

    I’d like to second what James from Pen with Pens said – make yourself accountable to someone else.

    In fact, I’d like to increase the volume on that one and go even further by making yourself accountable to a whole community of people whether it’d be those who follow you on Twitter or your blog/website. It doesn’t matter how many subscribers you have but if you make yourself accountable to a lot of people, that puts a seed of responsibility in your head. It’s a form of self pressure.

    Another thing is I agree totally with the concept of scheduling in a task. I do that in my Blackberry where I schedule tasks for the day. It’s extremely effective in getting me to take action. My BB would vibrate 15 minutes before the scheduled task, reminding me of what I said I’d do at a certain time. Of course, you have flexibility in making changes if need be but it’s very effective.

    Great article – I love being reminded of stuff like this because not only does it confirm what I’ve been doing but it also tugs my consciousness by dropping another seed.

    Stephen Hopson’s last blog post..How I Will NOT Lose 20 lbs. in 30 Days: Follow Up Week #4

  • Sep 12, 2008 Sonia Simone

    Ah ha ha, I love being the punchinatrix. Now must live up to it. :)

    @Elliot, oh yes, I have been that person many times. I still am, except when I get tired, which is more & more often.

    And of course I’m using don’t-break-the-chain! I love it, that beautiful string of Xs.

    Sonia Simone’s last blog post..Objection Blaster Series #2: The Zen of Selling

  • Sep 12, 2008 Hunter Nuttall

    @ Stephen, it’s actually “Men with Pens,” not “Pen with Pens,” as that would be too many pens, not enough men. In fact, they now have 50% more men working their pen zen. Wanna buy my wren Ben Chen for ten yen?

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Personal Development For Smart People: Free Sample Chapter

  • Sep 12, 2008 Stephen Hopson

    @Hunter: Oh my good Lord, I am laughing at my oversight. Your response was funny as heck. “Pen with Pens” – hahahaha, how could I have typed that? I must have be in La-La land when I left a comment. Good gracious! Thanks for pointing it out to me. Yes, they certainly appear to have 50% more men working their pen zen, indeed. In fact, I think they now have a trio or something. Amazing – those guys!

    Stephen Hopson’s last blog post..How I Will NOT Lose 20 lbs. in 30 Days: Follow Up Week #4

  • Sep 12, 2008 James Chartrand - Men with Pens

    *snickers*

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..How to Be a Good Customer

  • Sep 12, 2008 Stephen Hopson

    @Sonia: Indeed you now have live up to the newly invented term “punchinatrix”! Isn’t that what the wise people meant when they said “be careful what you wish for”?

    Indeed and now that you’ve been labeled as such, you might as well turn it into an advantage. Why not make a speech out of it, using that word? Or in your marketing materials say something like

    “The Punchinatrix is Coming to Town!”

    Chuckle, chuckle.

    Stephen Hopson’s last blog post..How I Will NOT Lose 20 lbs. in 30 Days: Follow Up Week #4

  • Sep 12, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Elliot –
    Thanks for the kind words and I understand where you’re coming from. Have had to leave jobs for that exact reason.

    @Michelle –
    Whoo-hoo! Keep commenting :-) I also wrote on Seinfeld’s calendar in this post – “Don’t break the chain” is a good mantra.

    @Brett –
    These boots are made for kicking, buddy.

    @Alex –
    I used to have a similar thread on the Tony Robbins forum … was one of the most viewed threads there (not b/c of me, other people used it for accountability as well)

    Glad you like the content. Info product? Maybe “someday” … (LOL, you should love that word)

    @Jean -
    If the metaphor makes you want to keep working, use it. :-)

    @Stephen –
    Highly public accountability will definitely get you moving …

    And I use Outlook the same way as you’re using your Blackberry.

    @Sonia –
    You are the punchanatrix. There will be comic books about you. And fanfic.

    @Hunter –
    ***head explodes***

    Awesome.

    @Stephen –
    “punchanatrix” may be caught by spam filters. Sounds naughty.

  • Sep 13, 2008 Jane

    Hi Dave
    I’m what is known as a digital immigrant, rather than a digital native and this the first time I have come across your page. I have been reading it all morning! I have found it very interesting. I have great ideas about leaving teaching and starting my own business, but have lacked the confidence /capacity to develop them fully. Also, I am currently acting in a senior role at my workplace and as I am determined to do a wonderful job, am finding i am spending all my spare time working. This role finishes in December. Has anyone started their own business, with dependent chilren, a large mortgage, a full time job and whilst studying? My study is something that is working towards my goal of leaving teaching. Also, I am forty something……………..where do I start? Grateful for your advice……Thanks Jane

  • Sep 13, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Jane –
    No time to spare and wondering where to start? I’d recommend devoting a regular slice of time each week – even if it’s only 2 hours – and make that your business building time. Find something you can do on a freelance basis – consulting, writing,etc., and focusing on getting one client, just one to start.

    Building a business in your spare time really does come down to starting small, trying to make a few dollars at first, and then asking yourself how you can make more. Over time, $25/week can turn into $50, then $100 …

    But just start with something. Set those dedicated business hours. I have 3 kids, a senior management job, a mortgage … I had to start waking up at 5am for my slice of time (hence my Becoming an Early Riser program).

    Run with something small and manageable, and then work to make it bigger (and manageable).

  • Sep 15, 2008 Gina

    Another post for ME! You must be that pesky fly on the wall :)
    I am starting my rising earlier plan in the morning and with my earlier start I will
    * Refine my goal into a measurable outcome
    * Schedule time in every day to take action (written in planner)
    then
    * Every day, ask myself the Big Question “What did I do to make progress on this goal?”
    Finally Dave… I’m telling you to keep myself accountable.

    Big Mahalo for being here!

  • Sep 15, 2008 Karl - Your Work Happiness Matters

    I really enjoyed this article. I have lacked my ability to keep myself accountable. I’m a task hopper.

    When I know what I want to get done, detailed list. It gets done, but a lot of my projects are large and I seem to get caught up in all the busy work instead of doing the heavy lifting. It’s time I focused my lists with every project I do. Thanks!

    Karl – Your Work Happiness Matters’s last blog post..Trapped in a Job You Hate? How to Take that First Step Toward Career Bliss

  • Sep 16, 2008 Dave Navarro

    @Gina –
    I’m EVERYWHERE. (Actually, it’s more accurate that we all have the same issues …)

    @Karl -
    Glad to help. *whipcrack!*

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