Use Accountability to Level-Up Your Success

As I was preparing for this week’s topic, I found some interesting statistics. A study from Scranton University comes up frequently in the conversation of goals and achievement. This study declares that only 8% of people who set New Year’s resolution goals achieve them.

8% - Wow, that’s a dismal number.

I came across another article that claimed 98% of people die without ever fulfilling their dreams.

So… at this point, you’re probably feeling like all hope is lost and why even bother. Hang on, pump the brakes and keep reading. The headlines are attention-grabbing, but what’s behind the numbers?

Most people have a goal in mind, and they decide they’re going to pursue it. The breakdown happens because they stop right there. A study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University highlights the connection between goal achievement and three factors: “accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals.

Many people have big dreams, but they don’t have a plan for success. If you’ve ever worked in the business world and have experienced the joy that is a performance review, you know that successful businesses create plans, set goals, and build in accountability mechanisms for achievement. Why not take a page out of the business playbook and apply it to your personal goals?

Here’s the thing… Science proves that there are real and accessible actions you can take to turn the odds in your favor. One of these actions is to build accountability into your plans.

When people get stuck on reaching their goals – accountability is one of the factors behind the block. This is one of the reasons coaching has become a huge industry, as those who are serious about reaching their goals discover the importance of accountability.

What Is Accountability?

According to Merriam-Webster, accountability is defined as: the quality or state of being accountable, especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.

When positioned positively, accountability is about taking an active role and ownership for progressing your goals. If you find yourself shrinking from the term, you may have negative associations with the word. A good example of negative accountability is when it is used to assign blame when something goes wrong. Think of this as reactive accountability. When undertaken in a positive frame, accountability is about proactive action.

 How Can Accountability Help Me Reach My Goals?

Accountability is a powerful driver of change when it’s incorporated into the goal-setting process. When built into the planning stage of your journey, it guides you by providing measurable checkpoints and an objective partner to help you stay on track. If you begin drifting off course, accountability can help catch any deviation before it derails your plans.

Other benefits of accountability include:

  • Increased Motivation: When you make a commitment to another person, you create an agreement for that objective party to keep you accountable. Adding a partner to the process increases motivation to reach your goals. You’ll find that you are more driven to achieve results, because there’s an added factor of maintaining your credibility with people you care about.
  • Ownership: Accountability puts you in the driver’s seat of your success, placing ownership of results directly on your shoulders. When you take ownership, you tend to make less excuses and are not inclined to let yourself off the hook. Adding an accountability buddy to the mix takes your ownership public and feeds your focus.
  • Build New Habits: Accountability encourages you to build strong habits. When you’re accountable for your results, you start rising to a higher level with your daily, weekly, and monthly disciplines and success habits gradually become part of your life.
  • Keeps It Real: You have an opportunity to get feedback from an objective party. We all need someone to kick our butts every now and then. An accountability buddy is that person who won’t take your excuses or put up with any BS. They’ll hold your feet to the fire when you don’t feel like working on your goals and they’ll help push you to a level beyond what you can often achieve alone.
  • Creates Structure: Accountability helps enforce the deadlines you set for your goals and compels you to build an action plan, creating a clearer path to achievement.

 How Can I Use Accountability To Reach My Goals?

 Now that you know the benefits of accountability, what can you to do add this key factor to your achievement path?  Use the 7 tips below to get you on your way.

  1. Don’t Go It Alone: When you’re working on your goals, it’s okay to enlist help. Find an Accountability Buddy and form a partnership to keep your success on track. Choose a friend who isn’t afraid to tell you the unvarnished truth and make a conscious choice not to be offended by constructive criticism. Vow to listen to the feedback you’re given and incorporate what you can to advance your goals. Your accountability buddy’s job is to give you honest feedback and to keep you on track every step of the way.
  2. Make Your Goals Real: If your plan only lives in your head, you’re in danger of your goals staying vague and shifting along the way. To build accountability, activate your goals by doing two things: Write your goals down – and then prioritize each goal according to which are most important to conquer first. Speak Your Goals – share what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and when you’re going to do it.
  3. Set Goal Deadlines: When there’s no endpoint for achieving a goal, you’re prone to wander along the path, and any shiny object that comes your way will serve as a distraction. Deadlines keep you focused and create accountability by providing a sense of urgency to accomplish what you’ve set out to do.
  4. Have a Daily Plan: Working on your goals is a daily practice. Set a plan – Every day - that lays out the tasks you need to undertake right now to move closer to the finish line. Use a planner or journal to create your plan. List the three things that you need to accomplish each day and make time to do them.
  5. Break Down Your Goals: Create a set of checkpoints or micro-goals that serve as measurable achievements toward the overarching goal. In an earlier article, I share steps for effective goal setting that includes checkpoint goals. You can read more about that HERE
  6. Celebrate Your Wins: As you reach significant milestones along the path to your goal, make sure you celebrate. Reward yourself for reaching a checkpoint. Buy yourself a gift, have a nice dinner out, or plan a weekend getaway. Include your accountability buddy, friends, or family that are helping support your goals.
  7. Find a Community with Like Goals: There’s power in numbers. Joining a club or networking group, or even a Facebook group can help get you connected with peers who are also working toward similar goals to yours. Sharing your goals, progress, and challenges with the group can help you feel like you’re not alone and putting your mission out to the world helps build accountability. A study by two university of Connecticut researchers looked at the connection between exercise and participation in online health groups. Their findings “suggest[s] a high level of correlation between users' exercise activities and their participation in [sic] digital health communities”  

Wrapping It All Up:

Don’t let the doom and gloom statistics around achievement get you down. There are real, proven ways to reach your goals and the likelihood of success rises in direct proportion to the amount of planning and work you apply to your goal. Increase your odds by writing your goals down (look at them often), recommitting to your goals daily, and building accountability into the journey.

 The 7 tips above offer a set of tools to increase accountability and help you stay the course as you work to advance your dreams. So find that Accountability Buddy, create a plan for success, and get to it.

And in the meantime... Be Brave. Be Bold. Be Blissful.

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