Can social media help you achieve more goals?

Sunrise on Tuesday, September 4th marked the start of the “New New Year” for many, if not most.

If you’re anything like me, the return to normal schedules and the proximity of December 31st turns your attention to the lingering, yet-to-be-attained goals set months before. I can’t help but go back to my New Year’s list and see what I still need to crack through.

Invariably, there are one or two still lingering there.

If you have an outstanding goal or two, whether it’s whittling that waistline or finishing a DIY project, social media may just be your best ticket to success.

Social Media’s Powerful Punch

At its heart, social media is all about community – and the right community of like-minded goal seekers can provide you with three incredibly powerful benefits: (1) visibility to others (i.e. accountability), (2) inspiration, and (3) encouragement.

• Visibility/Accountability: When you go it alone, there is nobody to raise an eyebrow if you skip a workout or fail to take a small, daily step you need to get something done. But once you are part of a community, it is easy to find at least one other person in that group, if not the entire community itself, to serve as an accountability buddy. The peer pressure that comes with knowing another person will be able to see and track what steps you are taking (or not taking), dramatically increases your likelihood of actually following through.

• Inspiration and Ideas: When everyone in the community is on the same path, it is only natural that tips and ideas get swapped. This can be tremendously helpful, and possibly even shorten your time to completion if you are able to connect with and learn from someone who has successfully completed the goal before you.

• Encouragement: The path to success is rarely a straight line. Having a community of people you can turn to for encouragement when you hit a roadblock or when your motivation falters can spell the difference between failure and success.

Three Tips for Using Social Media to Help You Reach Your Goals

The very nature of Twitter, Facebook, Meetups and blogs in particular make it relatively easy to find a group of like-minded people and engage with them directly on your shared topic of interest. There are large mainstream communities, like Nike+, as well as hundreds of niche communities, like the monthly challenges we run on, or the weight loss community for blogging moms, Mamavation. All you have to do is fire up your browser start searching.

Here are three tips on using social media to help you achieve your goal(s) by the end of the year.

1. Focus: Bigger is not always better.

Often there is an inverse relationship between the size of a community and the strength of the community. Start looking within a tightly defined niche first, and then if you need to widen your definition a bit until you find a group that is big enough to adequately support you.

2. Fit:

As the saying goes, there are different strokes for different folks. In order to get the benefits from a social media community, it has to be a good fit for you. Pay particular attention to things like the tone of the communications, the frequency of messaging, aesthetics, etc. Those details matter — if you don’t like them, you won’t want to interact down the line.

3. Competitions or Challenges – A Path to Follow:

Many groups have structured competitions or challenges that you can participate in to help you achieve your goal more quickly. For example, in the monthly challenges, we provide a daily email with one task to complete and then require a check-in via email, Facebook or Twitter. The less work you have to do to create a path on your own, the less resistance you have to getting started. In addition, if the roadmap is combined with a little friendly competition, it can supercharge your motivation.

How about you, do you have any goals lingering from your New Year’s list? Have you ever used social media to conquer a goal? If you’ve participated in one of our challenges – has it helped?