Social Media as Social Motivation: 3 Steps to Jumpstarting Any Goal

By Dan Berman, M.Ed., University Director of Retention

CTU Doctorate Degree - Social MotivationI achieved a tremendous milestone in October. In the four months prior, I lost 50 pounds. It was news that I couldn’t wait to share with my Facebook friends. As I began updating my status, an idea sparked. I’d been chronicling my weight loss journey online for months and it was just the motivation I needed to stick with my new healthy habits. Could I apply this same motivation to achieve other goals, like completing my doctoral dissertation?

Like many doctoral students, I was juggling a variety of priorities between my academic studies. Although I finished the necessary coursework in 2010, it was tough to manage the dissertation writing process while also raising two young children (ages 4 and 7 months), working full-time, teaching part-time, and trying to maintain a healthy social life with friends. I made slow progress with required reading, writing and research, but knew I needed to do more to complete the degree requirements. Of course, something always came up and I allowed those “little things” to distract me from my goal.

When it came to my dissertation, no other motivation techniques worked. But when I realized how my online community, comprised of hundreds of friends and connections on Facebook and LinkedIn, encouraged me to stick to my weight loss goals, I knew I was on to something. The concept of holding myself accountable to my social communities online got me fired up and motivated! So I devised a jumpstart plan for my dissertation: I will read 60 articles or chapters in 60 days and post a summary of these readings on my social media accounts so that my community can keep track and continue to hold me accountable. This is my “60/60 journey.”

I’m less than a week in, but already am reinvigorated with my research and look forward to the next article on my list. I’m even more excited about the conversations that began about the articles, postings and questions I have presented to my social communities.

Your goal may not be to lose a ton of weight or to complete a doctorate degree, but I’ll bet you’re facing some big goals and those require innovative thinking to achieve. Here are three steps you can take to apply what I learned and jumpstart any challenging goal:

Step 1: Commit to the goal personally

The goal you identify cannot be something you might want to do, it has to be something you’re willing to do or you must do. It has to be meaningful. You need to acknowledge that you are choosing to achieve the goal, and not doing it out of obligation. Say these words out loud, “I commit to achieving this goal.”

Step 2: Communicate your goal publically

Once you’ve clarified your goal and you’ve personally gotten behind it, let those around you know what you’re up to. Share what you’re choosing to do and how you’re choosing to get it done. The more people you tell the better.

Step 3: Consistently share your progress

Achieving a goal often means taking a number of small steps first. So identify those steps, or milestones, as you move toward your goal. Then, let your community know what they are every step of the way. This keeps them engaged and excited about your progress. It’s like having a virtual cheering section, encouraging you to press on.

Even though I’m still in the early stages of this three-step process, I’m excited about how it began and eager to see where my 60/60 journey will take me. I am also beginning to think about my next social motivation project. For me, the possibilities are endless.

Dan Berman, M.Ed., has been in online education for almost a decade at various levels; from student and instructor to advisor and administrator, he is currently the University Director of Retention. Dan works diligently to identify, develop, deploy, and monitor initiatives to help support students achieve their academic goals. Dan is achieving is own academic goal of receiving his Ed.D from Northern Illinois University and you can track his progress by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

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Image credit: Flickr/Lululemon Athletica