Could This Be Keeping You From Reaching Your Goals?

accountability change comfort zone getting started habits right time success principles take action Nov 30, 2021
the importance of accountability in reaching goals

I love this time of the year. Despite the chilly days and long hours of darkness, there’s something so satisfying about getting cozy with a warm, snuggly blanket and a nice glass of wine or warm cup of tea. It just so happens that these quiet moments are also the perfect time for self-reflection. 

With the end of the year fast approaching, I invite you to do this helpful reflection exercise with me. Grab your beverage of choice, a pen & paper, and settle down into your favorite comfy spot. (Grab any notes you have from setting goals or New Year's resolutions within the past year too!)

Ask yourself these questions (remember to write your answers down!):

  1. What goals did I set for myself this year?
  2. How much progress have I made towards each goal? Am I satisfied with the progress?
  3. Which goals did I achieve or make significant progress on?
  4. Which goals did I make very little or no progress on? How do I genuinely feel about the lack of progress?
  5. What kept me from making progress on or achieving these goals?

First of all, congratulations on the goals that you DID accomplish. That’s fantastic!

If you’re like most people, though, it’s likely that the list of goals that you didn’t reach, or made little or no progress towards, outweighs the goals that you did accomplish.

Here’s the thing, though. When we set a goal, that means that we have to incorporate new or different actions into our routines. There are no two ways about it. And this means that we have to change, and we all know how challenging making changes in our habits and routines can be, even when we know that accomplishing our goal will bring us more joy and happiness.

We start off filled with loads of motivation because we’re laser-focused on what the end result will be like and how satisfied we will feel...only to have that motivation fade a few weeks later (okay, let’s be real… sometimes we don’t even start). You may take the extra step to create the famous SMART goals, but even those goals can easily miss the mark.

Why? 

Because motivation is not enough to create sustainable, lasting change. 

Motivation can get us started taking action towards our goals, but it just takes one busy week, one bad night’s sleep or even one vacation before the door to our comfort zone swings wide open and calls us back to our previous routine and habits. Of course, it’s easy to justify “just this one time” and declare that you’ll hit it twice as hard the next day. That can be a very slippery slope, though. Before you know it, it’s nearing the end of the year again and you realize that you’ll have to add that goal to the list yet again, despite how motivated you were at the beginning of the year. 

There is one secret ingredient that will dramatically improve your chances of accomplishing your goals: ACCOUNTABILITY.

Looking at your list of goals, ask yourself this question:

How much accountability did I have on each of my goals? 

 

So what exactly is accountability?

Webster defines it as an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. This comes in two forms: internal accountability where you are committed to your own goals; and external accountability where you are held accountable for your goals by someone else. Whether it be a social group, a best friend or a strong support system, science shows that having both of these is the way to make changes stick. 

Let me share some incredible statistics from a study done by the Association for Talent Development. Based on a study they did on goal-setting, here are the odds you have of achieving a goal:

  • You just have an idea (I should wake up at 6am and run) 10%
  • You decide to take action on the goal (set an alarm for 5:30am) 25%
  • You have a deadline (join a 5K race in 2 months) 40%
  • You have a step-by-step plan (create training program and incentive to get out of bed) 50%
  • You commit to someone that you’ll meet your goal (tell your personal trainer) 65%
  • You have an accountability appointment with a partner (get a running buddy) 95%

 

The statistics are ASTONISHING and I bet you will see evidence of this in your own life too. Imagine how much easier it is to stick to taking action towards your goal when you have someone working holding you accountable!

 

So why does accountability work?

Think about when you are working on a project at work. You are accountable to your manager, perhaps clients and/or co-workers as well, to deliver certain results by a certain time. You want to be sure to deliver as expected so that you aren’t letting people down (or possibly even getting in trouble!) Being held accountable gives you that extra boost of motivation because you know that you would much rather follow up with the good news of your progress than to have to confess to little or no progress made. Can you relate?

Accountability helps make your goals concrete. Once you talk about your goals with someone, they become more real. And oftentimes you even start to develop a plan, and a real intention, rather than it being just a cool idea or fleeting thought. Regular check-ins also make your progress measurable and seeing progress can help you keep your internal motivation too!

Accountability makes you commit to deadlines. Having a timeframe on goals is part of creating a plan… but an accountability buddy or group makes you more likely to stick to your deadlines because you’re reporting back. No one wants to show up for a meeting all about their progress and have to say they didn’t get anything done! 

Accountability makes you take things more seriously. When you tell someone about a goal, you’re naturally more likely to take it seriously. We naturally perform better when we’re being observed. Think about how many times you’ve let yourself off the hook since you’d be the only one who would know!


Choose wisely, though. 

Choosing the right accountability partner is HUGE. This can be the difference between success and failure. Some of the common ones are:

Friends and family: Great for short to midterm. The trick here is, though, to make sure that they will actually hold you accountable and not end up forgetting about it. (Remember that they would be changing a habit here too.) 

Accountability partner: This is someone who is also working on a goal but who typically isn’t a friend or family member. You have someone to ride the highs and lows with, someone who can help you through the challenges and keep you on track. The downfall is that if they start losing their motivation, you both might fall off track.

Group of accountability partners: Instead of going with one person, this is a group of people who are all working on their goals. This is much more stable because there are multiple people all pushing and motivating each other to stick with it!

Coach/Mentor: This is the highest form of external accountability. There is no risk of family dynamics or of them losing interest. Plus, they always have tricks up their sleeve to help you reach your goal and stay motivated on the way.

 

Set yourself up for success in reaching your goals and dreams!

Grab your notebook and pen again, and answer the following questions:

  1. What goal would you like to achieve yet this year?
  2. What are your top three goals in 2022?
  3. Why is each goal important to you? What will it mean to reach each goal?
  4. What will you do to establish some accountability and dramatically improve the odds that you will make these goals a reality? 

 

 Let’s wrap up 2021 and move into 2022 strong! There is seriously no time like the present.

I am here to support you. When you’re ready to create more accountability in your life, especially for the New Year, check out my High Performance Coaching Club. You’ll get the benefit of group and coach accountability partners all in one!

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