A recent article on CNN Money explores the way social pressure can be used to make us do something we realize is important but can’t seem to get around to completing—like writing a book.

We tend to be motivated by things that pay off quickly or that allow us to avoid pain of some kind. Completing projects that may not pay off for months, if ever, requires a level of willpower that few seem to possess. It is far too easy to deal with the urgent matters of the day while the important stuff gathers dust.

And in that problem lies the solution: Find a way to make the important stuff urgent by building in short term rewards along the way and pain of some kind if you neglect to take action. One easy way to do this is to announce your project on Facebook or to a few close friends and let them know what your weekly goal is (such as writing a specified number of words every week), that you will report your progress every Sunday evening, and that you expect encouragement when you are making progress and appropriate comments when you are not. We care what people think of us so our performance will usually improve dramatically.

What project do you need to let your friends help you complete?