The Power of Calling Your Shot
Why talking about your wildest goals helps you achieve them
When I set my sights on a big new goal, one of the first things I do is start blabbing about it. Not because I’m totally confident in myself but because I’m afraid that if I don’t call it, I won’t do it.
When it comes to accomplishing a major milestone — training for a marathon, getting out of credit-card debt, running for office, writing a book — the more people you share your goal with, the more likely you are to follow through. Research has even shown that when you’re accountable to another person, you’re more likely to achieve your goal. (Of course, this can backfire too, so you have to be strategic about it.)
It worked for Kim Chambers. In her early thirties, Chambers was severely injured and told she might never walk again unassisted. As part of her rehabilitation, she started swimming — and went on to become the third woman in history to complete the Oceans Seven, a series of long-distance open-water swims.
Chambers now often swims for charity and makes a public announcement each time she decides to participate in a new swim event. “I know some people like to keep things very tight to their chest before they do a swim,” she said on the Hurry Slowly podcast. “But for me, there is some accountability and a real joy of sharing this with people.” She knows her fans are with her — in spirit and via GPS — during her grueling swims (her 30-mile trip from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco took 17 hours and 12 minutes; she was the first woman to complete it).
When I heard Chambers’ story, I was 40,000 words into the draft of my novel. I’d been making incremental progress on it for about a year and a half (beginning with a spreadsheet where I tracked all my excuses), but part of me worried I would never finish. To get over the fear, I had to dare myself to face the thing I was afraid of: I had to open my big mouth.
I sent an email to my newsletter list of about 500 people with the subject line “This is my version of swimming with sharks” and set my intention: I was going to write 10,000 words in the month of September. For me, this was going to be a challenge because I only averaged 208 words a day. I’d have to double that — and write seven days…