Now that you have your New Year’s Resolutions finalized, how are you going to make sure you achieve your goals? Setting up a way to be held accountable is the #1 way to help you succeed. Think about it this way: when your boss tells you that you need to get something done, you stay late and work those extra hours to make sure it’s done. When you buy a gym membership, the chance that you’ll continue going for the duration of the membership is far less than 100% because you’re only accountable to yourself.
There are tons of articles out there on why accountability works, so I won’t go into too much detail here. I will recap some of the reasons why, though:
- Having to report your progress back to someone else increases the importance of the item in your mind and therefore increases your chances of getting it done.
- Accountability is a support system to help you achieve your goals. It’s there to nudge you when you aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like, offer encouragement along the way, provide feedback to keep you on track, or suggest new ideas when you’re not sure how to proceed.
- As humans we hate to let people down. If we tell someone we’re going to do something, we generally feel pretty bad if it doesn’t get done. Although guilt is normally thought of in a negative view, it can help you get things done.
- We are wired to seek approval from others. By reporting your progress to someone else, you’re getting the approval you crave while also reaching towards your goals.
Accountability works and we could all use it. Check. But what’s the best way to be held accountable? There’s no right or wrong answer for this and it’s different per person and probably even per set of goals you’re trying to achieve. For instance, to reach my exercise goals I would use my Fitbit network (alright, it’s just my sister, not a network). To reach my company goals I would use my coach. Some people might want to use the same network of people for all of their objectives. This works well for people who are looking for less support. If you are looking for specific feedback, different resources you can use, or real-life examples to work off of, then you might choose to have a different accountability partnership for each collection of aspirations.
Once you’ve figured out how to manage your accountability, here are some ways you can set it up:
- Join a group all doing the same sort of task (such as exercising, weight loss, or fund raising). The friendly competition can really help drive results and the group can share what they’re doing to inspire you and give you new ideas. This can be a Mastermind Group, a local networking group, a Facebook Group, a monthly in-person meeting, a weekly meet-up at a local coffee shop, etc. If you don’t know of any groups with the same goals you have, check out meetup.com.
- Ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable.
- Tell your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. network what you’re planning on doing and by when. That way you have your whole network cheering you on! I had a coworker whose New Year’s Resolution was around exercising and losing weight. To hold himself accountable, he made a YouTube channel and dedicated himself to posting a video of his workouts once a week. Because he knew that people would be expecting his videos, he made sure to stick to his regiment.
- Create a Googlesheet and invite some coworkers or friends to add their goals. Once a week, you can all meet via Google Hangouts to check-in on progress. To make things even more interesting, you can set a rule so that anyone who doesn’t reach their goals has to make a donation to something they don’t support. People feel good about donating, so having them donate to a cause they want to support won’t be a good motivator for accomplishing their tasks. The “punishment” has to be something they don’t want to happen – like donating to a political party they don’t back – if it’s going to be effective.
- Get a coach. Certified Professional Coaches are trained specifically to help people achieve their goals. They have a wide range of tools to use in any situation they encounter and really help you get to the core of why you’re going after the goals you set.
When you’re setting up your partnership, make sure you set expectations around exactly what you and your partner(s) are looking for, what’s going to help you best, how often you’ll be meeting, where you’ll be meeting, and how you would like them to handle it if you don’t complete a task. If your partner doesn’t have the time to check in with you or provide you with the support you’re looking for, it’s going to be harder to reach your goals. Making sure you’re meeting regularly will help ensure that you’re making steady progress towards your goal. The more frequently you meet, the more progress you’ll make. This will also help alleviate any downtime where fear could slip in and cause you to lose momentum.
It’s important to setup guidelines around what to do if you don’t achieve your subset of objectives so your partner(s) don’t feel uncomfortable about confronting you. The point of having someone to hold you accountable is to help you reach your goals, not to yell at you if you weren’t able to do something. If you are unable to complete your task, your accountability partner can work with you to figure out why and work out a plan to achieve results if it should come up again in the future. Sometimes life just happens and your priorities are changed, but if you aren’t completing your tasks because of fear-based excuses, that’s a different problem.
Accountability is hugely important for anyone who wants to reach their goals and even more so for company owners and executives. The job of the head of a company is to drive growth and profits in the company. Since they’re at the top, they don’t always have someone to hold them accountable. The buck stops with them. Larger companies have a Board of Directors to make sure the CEO is being responsible for the company goals, but for some, the Board isn’t always as supportive as one might like. For executives, having a coach can be more effective and important for reaching goals than for others in the company. Reach out to me to see if we would make great accountability partners