You have set up your goals; you know what you want to achieve and how long it will take you. Great, you are one step ahead; however, while establishing the right goals in the right way is essential, the challenging part is to achieve these goals. And no matter what, you will need accountability to reach them.
As Optimists, we believe we can do anything we set our minds to, but we know that just thinking about it won’t get us very far, and because we like to pray what we preach, we have tried a variety of accountability methods.
These are what we have found to be the most effective ways to keep accountability.
Tips to improve your accountability:
Plan in advance
“A goal without a plan, it’s just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
For every single thing we want to achieve, there are a thousand ways to do it, so having a plan or strategy is essential. Whether you want to drop 20 pounds or grow your business, you need a strategy.
Goals are (the majority of the time) big and long-term. They are the outcome you wish to achieve, but you’ll need a plan to get there. It’s also valuable because it provides you with clarity and focus. Most people don’t know where to start without a plan, which causes them to delay actions and lose motivation.
At Optimist Performance, we love goals, but we love planning just as much. We set up daily, weekly and monthly plans, and they are as detailed as possible.
For example, instead of simply preparing to exercise the next day, a team member decides the day or week before, the exercises she’ll do, when and for how long. So, she knows beforehand what she needs to do and when the time comes, she is mentally prepared for it.
You wouldn’t go into a meeting without an agenda. The agenda is your meeting plan to keep you on track and make sure you make the most out of your time.
Set short-term goals
Short-term goals can help you maintain your motivation, enable you to take small and immediate actions and assure your success.
Even if you start super motivated, the chances are that it will wear off eventually when we talk about long-term goals. Furthermore, big goals can make us feel overwhelmed.
Setting short-term goals is a part of the planning process, and it’s a great way to boost confidence. Breaking down your long-term goals into smaller ones gives you the satisfaction of achieving them while also allowing you to see progress and increase motivation. (Check out our interview with Miles Lowry, Strategy Business Partner at Formula 1, where we talk about short-term goals)
In addition, don’t forget to celebrate the small wins. Incentives are one of the most effective ways to ensure goal completion, so pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself on your accomplishments. It feels amazing to complete a marathon, but you can only take one step at a time.
Find an accountability partner
You are 65% more likely to complete a goal if you commit to someone. That number increases to 95% when you set up an appointment to review your progress, according to a study by The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD).
Having someone with whom you can share your goals and progress will help you become more accountable while also increasing your motivation.
No one likes to admit defeat or fail, so we’re more likely to follow through when we have to show our progress to someone else.
If you don’t have someone close to you who can be your accountability partner, search for it elsewhere. When we were testing this method, we joined a group on social media.
You can also find a group in your area, search for your tribe or ask for professional help depending on your goals. A personal trainer or a coach can be an excellent resource for planning and accountability.
Once you have your plan and your short-term goals, it’s critical to keep track of them. You can use a variety of methods depending on your preferences; to-do lists, journaling, or a goal-tracking app.
- To-do lists: Did you know that our brains release dopamine when we complete a task? As a result, when we utilise to-do lists, we associate task accomplishment with crossing it off our list, resulting in dopamine release. We know now why one of our team members is obsessed with to-do lists.
- Keep a journal: Not only can you use it to track your progress, but you can also use it to make notes and other observations about your day that will help you review and reflect afterwards. We use it to review our weekly progress and keep track of good habits, for example.
- Goal tracking apps: We tried an app called Strides, and we can assure you that it works. It provides you with the same sense of accomplishment as a to-do list while it holds you accountable with notifications. It’s amazing how these small reminders can impact your accountability. We tried Strides, but there are many other options. (Check out this article for more info)
Keeping track not only improves our accountability but also makes us feel more productive since we can see what we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come.
Review & reflect
“Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.” – John C. Maxwell
Last but not least, we have to review & reflect on our progress and adjust our plans accordingly.
Even when we plan, we are bound to make mistakes or forget things. Also, things are constantly changing, so we need to be flexible and be able to adapt our plans. Taking the time to review and reflect allows us to identify challenges and improve our future planning.
Within our team, we review our progress on a daily and weekly basis. Then, every six months, we do an in-depth review to ensure that we are progressing toward our end goals.
The Optimist View…
We can achieve everything we want if we hold ourselves accountable.
Unfortunately, accountability is the most challenging aspect when it comes to goals, which is why outside assistance can be quite beneficial. One of the things that most of our executive coaching customers appreciate is the added help with planning and accountability.