I try to keep myself accountable with both my actions and words. When I work out, I try to have some integrity by pushing myself as hard as I can. That’s the only way I’ll earn both the body I want and the sweat that drips onto the floor. Whenever I say something, either to myself or to someone else, I try to make sure I do whatever it is I said I was going to do. I’ve rarely said I’ll keep my word to someone else aloud because I try to be a man defined by my actions when dealing with people, and a man of words through my writing. Am I perfect at this? No. Am I consciously thinking about this all the time? Again, no. This is one area I’d love to improve upon, and one of those things I’ve thought about on and off since I was a kid, when I first started thinking about becoming a man.

To me, my todo list is an extension of keeping my word with myself. It has everything I’ve promised myself I’d do at one point in my life or another. In my todo list app of choice1, I can set both due dates and start dates. Tasks with due dates are due today. For me, I mostly use due dates for my routines and workouts. These are the tasks I promised myself I’d due today. If I skip these and fail to accomplish them, then I broke that promise to myself. The world does not end and I will not cease to exist, but that’s how I try to treat it if and when I fail to keep my word with myself. Dramatic? Maybe. But it works. Start dates are those tasks that will only appear on my todo list on the day I asked it to start appearing in my todo list. OmniFocus allows me to create Perspectives, which are customizable views inside the program that shows what I want it to show. In this case, I have one called Today that shows me all my due items and deferred items with a date of today. This is my main list, and the one that shows me everything I need to worry about. A list with thousands of tasks is reduced to just a dozen or so. That’s powerful, and one of those tools I love to use every day.

Currently, whenever I tell someone something that I’m personally accountable for, I keep that memory in my head. I don’t write it down and I don’t repeat it to myself over and over until I’ve memorized it. I don’t have a system in place where I ensure I don’t forget this promise in the future until the obligation has been fulfilled. I’m not sure why I don’t. I’ve occasionally written some promises in OmniFocus, but those times have been rare. I’m not sure how to remember the times I give somebody my word other than relying on my memory. If I tell somebody I’ll never lie to them2, I’ll try my damndest to never lie to them. I could use a notebook, either analog or digital, to do this, but is that the best way to do this? Shouldn’t I just know to keep my word? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

This is one of those entries I’d wish I’d spent a bit more time on to think about more fully. On the other hand, this feels like one of those subjects that I’ll be thinking about for the rest of my life. I do have to ask myself, though, why I want to be a man known for keeping his word. Is it because I want people to trust me? Is it because it’s the right and honorable thing to do? Is it because I’ll feel really good about myself? A bit of everything? I don’t know. I’ll need to spend some quality time reflecting on this. I’ll try to keep myself accountable with myself by making sure I keep my word to myself.3 I would also like to ask my three readers to try to keep me accountable, as well. So if you can, ask me how this is going a few weeks from now. Maybe add it to your todo list app of choice?

  1. Sorry I’m delving into the intricacies of OmniFocus, but it’s the app I use and love every day. In total, to buy both iOS versions and the Mac version, I spent over $100 for this suite of apps. I treated it as an investment because that’s what I’m doing — I’m investing in myself. I suggest you do the same. 

  2. Just an example, and one of those things that doesn’t fit my todo list app. “Don’t lie to Friend A” doesn’t seem like a task I’ll ever check off. At least, not until I die, in which case it won’t matter anymore. 

  3. I’ve come full circle! Ha.