Many of us are beginning our week this Monday with a mindset we are not accustomed to. Resolutions firmly planted in our minds, we will make that first trek to the gym, or attach that inaugural nicotine patch to our shoulders before heading off to work.
Good for us. Day one, and we’re on the program. No Whopper for lunch for us today. Our freshly calibrated pedometer is ticking off our steps, the steps we’ve chosen over the elevator.
We have an infinite set of tools to help us reach our goals. Watch 5 minutes of television today and expect to see models with great tans and 6 pack abs ripping off reps on the ab wheel/roller/rocker/smasher, which also will apparently give us tremendous chest and bicep muscles. There are “you can do it” diet ads everywhere. Everybody seems to want to help you, for three payments of $19.95…
Did you tell someone what you’re doing?
I hope you did, because if you did, you have a really good chance of making it. Here’s why.
The idea of a solitary journey, one mind over matter, the solo conquering of a perceived flaw in our beings seems perfectly workable. But it’s likely going to result in a fail that will disappoint.
Every week I have to face J, a man I call my “surrogate conscience”. We greet each other on Skype, and after exchanging pleasantries he says, “How is John?”
This is the moment of accountability.
J is not a therapist, he’s not a life coach, he’s not clergy or a Scientologist or a doctor of any type. He is someone who’s concerned about my success, and has no problem holding me accountable for my flaws and fails and my occasional wins. I realized about 2 years ago that achieving the things I care about comes with all kinds of roadblocks. There are personal issues, professional potholes and several other things that create inertia in my life. J offers no cures, has no five-step program, and has no patents on any type of ab roller/smasher/crusher. He’s just a guy, a friend, but the kind of friend who is unencumbered by politeness. He calls BS when he thinks he sees it, and I respect his opinions.
I have a friend who asks me questions about goals he has set for himself. I always tell him, “The only person I care about is you.” This enables me to call him out when I think he’s on the wrong track. I am someone who is genuinely concerned about my friend’s success. My only agenda with him is providing some support, so he doesn’t have to go it alone.
Imagine getting advice from someone who likes you enough to tell you the truth but doesn’t love you too much. Wow, right?
I have found a person who knows me well, but is not blinded by loyalty. J is a “friend”, yes, but he says things to me that no friend of mine would normally dare utter. He is not an expert in my career field, yet he knows enough to be familiar with it. This permits him to offer challenges and questions that allow me to consider options without feeling like I’m being told what to do.
I fail most of the time, you should know. I fail over and over again. I need to be able to tell you how often I fail; I’m a writer, not an industry or an infomercial. I can’t try and put up a facade of success, because it would be BS. Most of the time I don’t get it right. What I get out of this relationship with J is the motivation to try again, and this is the essence of the promises we make to ourselves. It’s an ongoing process, with dips and bumps and crashes. Things come up. Delays occur. Life happens.
Good luck on your goal. hope you told someone about it. If you tell me, it stays between us.
John Scott is an instructor, online education coordinator and the career services manager at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. John’s debut book, “Destination: Reinvention” is available as an eBook on Amazon, an audiobook on iTunes and a hardcover on Lulu.
Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.