Before the quarantine, I never realized how much the mere presence of other people in my life pushed me to accomplish more and meet the expectations the world has for me. It’s not like people passed me on the street and said, “Hey you, get back to work!” It’s just that you felt the presence of humanity and responded to it. Several sources have written about feelings of inefficacy during this quarantine. It’s difficult to know if you are doing the job you are supposed to be doing, both professionally and personally, when the people you rely upon to give you feedback are no longer in your daily face-to-face interactions. As we are forced to remain in our homes with whatever small group of family or friends we ended up with, the vibrant and dynamic feedback loop that normally holds us accountable has been severed. Some of us are even holed up in homes and apartments singly (if you know somebody who is quarantined alone, stop reading and call them, RIGHT NOW!). Stuck in our little worlds, there’s nobody to hold us accountable.
It’s not easy to cultivate good habits. Charles Duhig, in the Power of Habit, writes about the force of social connections when trying to develop a new routine. If you are a beginner runner, recruit a friend to join you and arrange to run together at set times. You’ll feel accountable to show up for your partner and complete the workouts. When it’s raining or cold, or early in the morning and you don’t want to get out of bed, you’ll lace up and get out the door because you won’t want to disappoint your buddy. Duhig calls this an “accountability partner”. This advice extends to other areas of experience. It can help with your writing routine as well.
As far as my writing, at this point, I’m accountable to myself. I’ve locked into a routine and my expectations for myself. But, if you haven’t developed a habit, try Duhig’s advice and link to a friend or two; make a commitment to a blog post once a week or every two weeks. A group of my connected colleagues is starting a blogging PLN called #BlogginThroughIt. We’ll use a shared Google Doc, Twitter, and Voxer to connect. I’m looking forward to the ideas, feedback, support, and encouragement that will come from working with this group of friends and passionate educators. You can do it also. Just check the hashtag on Twitter and join us.
With partners, even if it rains, or it’s cold… you’ll write! How might you use “accountability partners” to start a healthy, productive habit in these challenging times? We’d love to hear your ideas.