Accountability Chats

Just checking in, friends.

Hey friends,

These past few weeks have been way more busy and hectic than usual due to travel and business, so I'm hanging on to my routines by my fingernails.

On my way to the US, I briefly considered sticking to my time zone with these newsletters, but fortunately thought better of it. It's Tuesday 2am GMT+3 as I'm writing this, but only Monday 7pm ET – so I'm still on time with today's edition.

Personal accountability systems are something I've been experimenting with sporadically over the years – from journals and habit trackers to accountability coaches, public commitments, and anti-charities. Generally, I don't have a problem keeping myself accountable when I'm engaged in things I believe in and have enough time and space for self-reflection. However, it gets harder to stay accountable to myself when things go out of hand: too much work, humdrum, stress, lack of direction, lack of personal space-time – all of these things increase the possibility of me straying away from my routines, procrastinating, breaking promises, and engaging in things I had committed not to engage in.

So, even though I still stick to my journaling, occasional mindfulness sessions, and very basic habit tracking, I always look for new techniques to help me stay accountable. And one thing I've been into lately is accountability chats.

The concept is simple: I have a few chats with a few people that I've committed to doing regular check-ins with. Twice a day, I share a quick update on things like how I'm feeling, what's on my mind, what my plan for the day is, or what my day was like. Sometimes I'm the only one checking in, other times everyone's doing it.

In addition to check-ins, I use these chats for occasional commitments, such as committing to staying away from social media during the day for a week. This is completely informal, we don't sign contracts with blood, there are no penalties, and yet it works like a charm. This simple act of sharing my commitment with my accountability friends is usually enough for me to lose any desire to break it (although I'm still open to the idea of anti-charities if this stops working!)

Early on I thought about scaling this since I've had multiple friends ask me about it, but for now I'm sticking to a few smaller individual chats since the check-ins and commitments (and the discussions we have around them) are often too personal for some to share them with third parties (even common friends).

What's your approach to staying accountable to yourself?

Have an accountable week,


A few thoughts

The best place on Earth. If you had to move to one place and stay there for the rest of your life, what would it be? A megapolis? Just a regular city? A tiny town? A cabin in the woods? Why?

You're more capable than you think. The more I work with people across projects, companies, industries, countries, the more aware I become of just how ubiquitous the impostor syndrome is. It's literally everywhere. Don't fall prey to it.

Loved this

What's the point of content? Plus: I met a longhorn "There are a few ways to think about a curlicue horn. One is that what seemingly gets in the way of doing our best work is not a barrier, but something we need to find a way around. But I like to think that the curlicue horn is more special than that. The second way to think about the horn is to realize: Each of us has a curlicue horn. It's the very thing we should embrace."

Mel Brooks Writes It All Down "I’d learned one very simple trick: say yes. Simply say yes. Like Joseph E. Levine, on “The Producers,” said, “The curly-haired guy—he’s funny looking. Fire him.” He wanted me to fire Gene Wilder. And I said, “Yes, he’s gone. I’m firing him.” I never did. But he forgot."

The fun part

Philadelphia is big, but NYC is MASSIVE.