Within the last year, the opportunity to launch my own consultancy emerged out of some new life circumstances in which I found myself between jobs, back at home with family, and weathering a professional identity crisis.
During this transition, I took advantage of the opportunity to take stock of my skills and abilities, as well as pick up a couple of new ones, but most importantly think more deeply about the man I wanted to be and how I wanted to be spending my time and the quality of life I imagined for myself.
I found the push I needed to take a risk and finally start a business. The first step: I needed to figure how to make a sustainable career out of teaching and advising young people from high school and into meaningful, suitable, and diverse careers – that’s what I love to do.
Up to this point in my career, I never had to rely on my ability to independently (and more critically successfully) run a small business, and generate income – I had been spoiled by a consistent influx of salary.
My new position as self-employed has asked me to engage in business planning, as well as draft revenue, expense, and 5-year growth projections. In short, I’ve had to perform tasks that are foreign to me; however, these new tasks remind about the importance of learning how to hold yourself accountable for success.
Whether you’re launching a business or tackling some other major life endeavor endeavor – like graduating high school, enrolling in college, or applying for a job – it’s important to cultivate good habits because the right habits are going to be your key to greater success.
For Thought #7, I wanted to share three things you can do hold yourself accountable for your accomplishing your goals. When you start to hold yourself more accountable for your actions, you start to realize that success is easier to achieve than you previously imagined.
1. Set SMART Goals
If you ever had a goal that you failed to achieve, I would wager you failed to accomplish your goal because it simply wasn’t SMART enough.
The acronym SMART, ie. specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-specific, is arguable one of the more popular ideas in business management and definitely one of my favorite ideas in life in general.
The basic idea of SMART is that how you start plays a major role in how you finish. For example, if your goal is go an international trip before the end of the year, it’s not enough to say, “My goal is to travel to Costa Rica in six months.”
While not bad, the goal as stated doesn’t provide much information about how one would actually go about bringing this goal to fruition. A SMARTer goal might look like: “I’ll save $200 per month for airfare the next four months leading up to my trip to Costa Rica while monitoring prices online, so I’m sure to get the best deal.”
The point here is that it’s so much easier to monitor and hold yourself accountable for progress on SMARTer goals than big, broad, or vague goals because you’ve decided what you will accomplish, how you will accomplish it, and by when.
The more thought you put upfront into articulating goals that are SMART will increase the likelihood you’ll actually accomplish them later down the road…if you’re willing to put in the work and follow through of course.
2. Keep a Journal
Perhaps it’s the writing teacher in me, but maintaining a journal is one of the best tools for improving personal accountability.
A journal is a great place to house your thoughts, intentions, and aspirations, so you’re not relying solely on your memory, which can be fickle. Moreover, journals permit recursion, i.e. the opportunity to regularly go back to review and tweak.
The best part about journaling is that it’s super easy – all you need is a journal, a pen or pencil, and a commitment to write regularly. For the more technologically oriented, you can also download free apps like Evernote for an electronic alternative to old fashion pencil and paper.
I recommend free writing for 10-15 minutes per day about what’s going in your life for 4-5 days per week to really benefit from the exercise of journaling.
When you write your goals in a journal and then keep a regular log of your progress on your goals, you’re able to evaluate impediments to accomplishing your goals and revise either your goals or your behaviors to better create the conditions for success.
3. Find an Accountability Buddy
Identifying someone who working to accomplish a similar goal as you or a mentor that is willing and able to invest time is helping you to succeed is so invaluable.
It’s important to note that identifying and cultivating a relationship with the right accountability buddy can be challenging and time intensive.
The key to relationship is trust and honesty. You don’t want anyone who is going to ruin your self-esteem, but you don’t want anyone who is going to enable you to default on your goals either. If you fail to accomplish a goal in a specified time, you need to trust that your accountability buddy is going to provide you with the right combination of compassion and tough love.
Moreover, both parties need to be committed and vulnerable in order for the the accountability buddy relationship to be effective; however, you’re golden once that relationship is established.
A great accountability buddy will help you to develop SMARTer goals, hold you accountable to periodic check-ins about progress made on established goals, and share tips and strategies on how to circumvent challenges and obstacles to accomplishing your goals.
Personal accountability is not an easy thing to do; however, I hope the tools provided in this article inspires you to develop a system for personal accountability that works for you. Once you’re able to hold yourself accountable for success, achieving your goals will become easier, and you’ll experience new levels of personal and professional success.
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